thursday things – easter is coming and other things

Here’s what you’ve missed over the last week

This guy who failed at Wheel of Fortune. He has ALL THE LUCK but unfortunately zero brains…

These tiny humans who make me want to make my own tiny human fight club which I assume would be judged by various levels of round-house-hug-attacks and “my-noggin-is-too-heavy-and- I’m-going-to-fall-over” combo moves.

And more adorableness in the secret (adorable) life of snails!macro-photography-snails-vyacheslav-mishchenko-2

Oh, and a tip about zesting citrus.  Let’s get something food-related in here, I guess.

And of course, since Easter is this weekend, a round-up is in order!

My Easter tends to be CARBS-CARBS-CARBS-CANDY-CARBS-HAM.

Easter 2014 Recipe Round Up

The Easter Eggs

Emma Magazine’s DIY Easter Egg Dye

The Carbs

This gorgeous tsoureki from A Periodic Table

Life Tastes Good’s tomato and scallion cream cheese bagel bombs

A super easy dutch baby from yours truly

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Playing with Flour’s sweet or savory crepes 

Blueberry waffles from Some Kitchen Stories

East of Eden’s almond breakfast rolls

The Desserts

Cream cheese and blueberry galette from Wit & Vinegar

Serena Bake’s lemon-lime pound cake

Movita’s Easter cake with swiss meringue buttercream

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Or some orange honey pound cake from Evil Shenanigans

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Oh, and let’s not forget these beauties

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The Drinks

Spoon Fork Bacon’s blood orange mimosas

This bellini bar from How Sweet It Is

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Jellybean martinis from Wee Eats

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Blueberry-almond butter smoothies from Love & Olive Oil

Kitchen Simplicity’s family-friendly (aka: alcohol-free) sangria

The Rest

Savory Simple’s Boursin deviled eggs

Mini mediterranean frittatas  from FoodieCrush

Bacon and potato quiche from Foodness Gracious

Crunchy Creamy Sweet’s breakfast skillet casserole 

Kale, apple, and pancetta salad from Elephant Eats

This gorgeous glazed ham from Simply Recipes

 

 

 

DIY Peanut Butter Eggs

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If you live on planet Earth and have heard of Easter, you have probably encountered at least one Reese’s peanut butter egg in your life.  And, if you had consumed said egg, then you know it’s the best candy known to mankind.

Of course, as a die-hard chocolate/peanut butter fan (and a lifelong Reese’s egg eater) it was only a matter of time before I had to recreate these godly treats in my own kitchen.

reeses egg ecard

What I didn’t realize when I set out to make these how much effort I would end up putting into them.

First off, since I am a lover of dark chocolate while Future Husband loves milk chocolate (which is the more authentically “Reese’s” one to use anyway), I already knew that I had to make at least two versions.

Since I was already making two versions, I decided to go a step further than just changing out the type of chocolate used and decided to try a hard-shelled version and a milk chocolate soft-shelled (more Reese’s-like) version.

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Normally a hard-shelled chocolate requires two things 1> a chocolate mold (check!) and 2> tempering chocolate (not-check).

Since we’ve already discussed how much I loathe chopping chocolate, you can probably deduce that I also have no patience for tempering chocolate. This meant that the chocolate I got had to be low-maintenance chocolate. No chopping or tempering required.

Enter – these beautiful little guys. “No tempering” you say? I’m listening…

And did you notice how adorable and tiny they are? Already optimized for melting.

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Translation: NO. CHOPPING. REQUIRED.

Sold.

So, with just the use of my egg-shaped mold and no special tempering or chopping, my molded eggs came out shiny with a crisp snap while my dipped eggs came out perfectly soft and chewy.

Success!

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Now that my chocolate problem was solved, it was onto the filling.

Most of the recipes you see for Reese’s-type treats will put you somewhere between one and ten thousand pounds* of powdered sugar.  Now it doesn’t take a scientist to figure out that adding copious amounts of powdered sugar to a recipe will make your filling cloyingly sweet.

(*That may or may not be a slight exaggeration.)

We want our filling to taste like peanut butter, right? Not like powdered sugar. So clearly there was some work to be done.

This was easy with the hard eggs, since the mold held the filling it didn’t have to be particularly sturdy.

However, since we were dipping our soft-shelled eggs, we required a sturdier filling. One that we could mold in our hands without it either melting or falling apart. As easy as this seems, despite my best efforts, I could not get my original filling to be able to be molded by hand.

And I tried hard, like, really hard.

After stirring in several extra pounds of powdered sugar, I decided to attribute this failure to my use of coconut oil in my original filling, as it is the only major difference between the two fillings that I made.  And while my kitchen is a bit warmer than your average kitchen, even the freezer was no help. Once my frozen peanut buttery goodness touched the luke-warm melted chocolate it turned to goo.

So we needed to thicken our mixture, but not add a ton of sweetness to it… Enter: powdered peanut butter (or “peanut flour”). While this helped to both a> keep my filling peanut-buttery and delicious without adding sweetness and b> thicken my filling, it did not thicken it enough for me to mold.

So, back to the drawing board.

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I solved this issue by swapping my coconut oil for butter (sorry, arteries!) and added a tad bit more powdered sugar than I would generally prefer, but balanced it with a generous scoop of peanut butter powder and a pinch of salt. The result was surprisingly close to what the inside of an actual Reese’s egg tastes like. Combined with the soft milk chocolate coating, I’m pretty sure I hit the nail on the head. Or at least darn close to it.

And then, just for fun, I did a caramel-filled one. I used this pre-made caramel filling which could be pressed into the egg mold or rolled into an egg shape and … done!

Easy peasy.

I even made some with peanut butter AND caramel inside because I was feeling a little crazy. You, of course, can fill your eggs with whatever you like!

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Reese

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 30 minutes

Yield: 8 to 12 eggs, depending on siz

Serving Size: 1 egg

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 2 Tablespoons butter
  • 2 Tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 10 to 12 Tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons peanut butter flour (I used PB2 powdered peanut butter)
  • 8 to 10 ounces chocolate coating (I used Chocoley's Bada Bing Dipping & Coating Chocolate)

Instructions

    Make the filling:
  1. Place peanut butter, butter, and brown sugar in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat at 50% power for 30 seconds and stir.
  2. Continue heating in additional 15 second intervals until butter is completely melted and stir the mixture until all the ingredients are incorporated.
  3. Stir in the salt until incorporated. Stir in peanut butter flour and 1/2 cup of powdered sugar until incorporated.
  4. Stir in additional powdered sugar, 1 Tablespoon at a time, until the mixture stiffens almost akin to play-dough consistency.
  5. Cover bowl and place in fridge to cool, about 1 hour.
  6. Shape the filling
  7. Once cooled, scoop into a scant tablespoon-sized ball and roll into a ball.
  8. Place the ball in the palm of your hand and pat into an egg-like shape.
  9. Place onto a parchment-lined plate or baking sheet and continue with the rest of the peanut butter mixture.
  10. Cover peanut butter eggs and place in refrigerator or freezer until chilled, 15 to 20 minutes.
  11. Make the eggs
  12. Melt chocolate in a double-boiler or microwave. - I melted my chocolate at 50% power in the microwave and stirred, then continued melting at 10 second increments until it was mostly (85%) melted, then stirred to complete the melting process.
  13. Remove peanut butter eggs from freezer and working one egg at a time, quickly but gently drop the egg top-down into the chocolate, then flip to coat the bottom and lift out of the chocolate. Give it a couple gentle shakes to allow extra chocolate to drip off, then place chocolate-covered egg on parchment to dry. Use the back of a spoon or a butter knife to encourage your egg to jump onto the parchment.
  14. Repeat with remaining eggs until complete.

Notes

* Eggs can be made larger or smaller as desired, I got 10 out of mine.

* If your peanut butter is softening, return to fridge to chill and re-melt chocolate to try again.

* If you aren't a fan of the "dunk and flip" method, you can also dip the bottom of the egg into the chocolate, lift it out, and then spoon additional chocolate over the top of the egg to cover. Give it a gentle shake to distribute the chocolate and shake off the excess.

* My chocolate-dipping "tools" usually consist of a plastic fork with the middle two tines removed, and a plastic spoon. I know I'm killing the environment but it beats cleaning chocolate off of my cutlery.

* Although I've seen PB2 all around lately (even at Target!), if you can't find it I have seen peanut flour at Trader Joe's or you could use finely ground almond flour. I've also heard wonderful things about the thickening power of coconut flour, but have yet to purchase any.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/15/diy-reeses-peanut-butter-eggs/

Hard-shelled Peanut Butter Eggs

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour

Yield: 10 2-inch eggs

Serving Size: 1 egg

Ingredients

Instructions

    Make the filling:
  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt peanut butter, coconut oil, and brown sugar on 50% power for 30 seconds. Stir and continue to microwave in 15 second increments, stirring in between, until mixture is combined.
  2. Stir in peanut butter powder followed by powdered sugar. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes or until chilled.
  3. Make the shell
  4. Prepare a sheet pan (or just cover part of your counter) with a sheet of parchment paper.
  5. Meanwhile, make your chocolate shells. Melt chocolate in a double-boiler or at 50% power until chocolate is 85% melted; stirring every 15 seconds or so. Once chocolate is mostly (about 85%) melted, removed from heat and continue stirring until completely melted.
  6. Fill molds about 2/3 full with chocolate, then rotate and gently shake the molds to run the chocolate up the sides. Once completely covered, turn mold upside down over parchment paper and shake to remove excess chocolate from mold. Use an offset spatula or bench scraper to remove excess chocolate from the mold exterior.
  7. Set aside to firm up, about 20 minutes, which should be right about the time your peanut butter filling is ready.
  8. Fill the eggs
  9. Pipe or spoon peanut butter filling into your egg molds, making sure to leave at least a couple millimeters at the top. If you fill your molds with too much peanut butter, the chocolate bottom will not be able to cover the peanut butter completely. Continue with the remaining shells until complete.
  10. Put their tops (or bottoms) on
  11. Gather the (now hardened) chocolate pieces from your parchment and return them to the bowl with your remaining chocolate. Gently re-melt the chocolate.
  12. Using either a pastry bag (or ziploc bag) or a spoon, pour melted chocolate in a thick zig-zag over the exposed peanut butter of each egg.
  13. Gently tilt and shake the egg mold to distribute the chocolate until it completely covers the peanut butter, using extra chocolate if needed.
  14. Tap chocolate mold on counter a few times to release any bubbles, and using an offset spatula or bench scraper remove excess chocolate from the mold.
  15. Set aside to cool and harden, you may speed this process up by placing the mold in the refrigerator if desired.
  16. Release the eggs!
  17. Once hardened, give your mold a good whack on the counter over your parchment paper with the open side down. Don't be shy here, this mold is the only thing standing between you and your chocolate eggs... so you give it what it deserves!
  18. Continue whacking the egg mold firmly against the counter like a lunatic until some eggs release. Remove those eggs to a safe place (like your mouth) and continue whacking the mold against the counter until all eggs have been released.
  19. Reward yourself with a peanut butter egg, you worked hard and you deserve it.
  20. Store in an airtight container at room temperature (assuming your home is cool) or in the refrigerator.

Notes

* Don't chill your eggs between adding the peanut butter and the last bit of chocolate or the chilled peanut butter will harden the chocolate before you have a chance to spread it around.

* I'm not sure if re-melting chocolate works with all chocolate or just happened to work out for me because mine was made for such a thing... Maybe someone more experienced than I am in chocolate would be able to answer that.

* Although I've seen PB2 all around lately (even at Target!), if you can't find it I have seen peanut flour at Trader Joe's or you could use finely ground almond flour. I've also heard wonderful things about the thickening power of coconut flour, but have yet to purchase any.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/15/diy-reeses-peanut-butter-eggs/

[ Disclaimer: I did receive chocolate to try from Chocoley but I was in no way required to review or recommend their products to you. However, I am going to recommend their chocolate anyway because a> I loved working with it, it tastes great, it's reasonably-priced, and they will send you FREE SAMPLES. WHO DOES THAT?  As always, opinions expressed on wee-eats are honest and my own because it's my blog and that's how I roll.]

DIY Reese's Eggs | wee-eats.com

UPDATE: Per some requests I thought it would be helpful to include a list of the items I used for these recipes:

 

thursday things – a better way to chop onions, owl facts, peanut butter pudding, and more

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We are a couple of weeks into spring now so it’s only fitting that we are brushing triple digits, with our highs in the upper 90s. If anyone who does not live in the southwest US is looking for a summer room-mate – I’m free. Totally. Seriously.

Save me?

Please?

In food news I found one of those “kitchen tips” that is actually helpful (instead of rage-inducing). A whole new (to me) way to chop an onion. Seriously. I tried it and it was glorious and I will be chopping onions like this from now on.

I also stumbled upon what might just be the coolest cake ever. If you can call it a cake… It’s like a cake/gyro hybrid (is your brain melting yet?) I mean, they call it a cake so I think we can call it a cake. Let’s just stick with cake, OK?

Also, did you know that honey lasts forever? If so, did you know why honey lasts forever?

Ever confused about how much (or if) to tip? The answer is to always tip, but here’s a chart from Food Republic to help you decide how much.

I’m normally not a fan of videos because they require too much commitment. I mean, a whole minute and half of my time PLUS I have to turn on my sound? Come on now. But this one is worth it.

And this one only requires half of the commitment, because sound is completely optional. I think the moral of this one is that FH and I need to get a ping pong table.

I’ve also solved a problem that has been plaguing me for my whole life. The lack of peanut butter pudding. Has anyone else noticed this?

No? Just me?

There are a million flavors of pudding, aside from the usual chocolate and vanilla you can get butterscotch, pistachio, even cookies and cream and gingerbread… yet for some reason no one has created a peanut butter pudding that I can purchase at the grocery store.

How can this be!?

Well, after enduring this hardship for 29 years, I finally made my own. I wanted to keep it as easy as possible, so I just doctored an instant pudding mix to include peanut butter.

peanut butter pudding 1210 2

And it was glorious.

Never again shall I have to endure a life without peanut butter pudding, my friends.

Never again! (But seriously, Jell-o, get on that, will you!? Powdered peanut butter exists, PUT IT IN A PACKET WITH YOUR PUDDING MIX! WHO IS IN CHARGE OF THESE THINGS!?)

peanut butter pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 box instant french vanilla pudding
  • 1 3/4 cups milk
  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter

Instructions

  1. Melt peanut butter in a microwave-safe bowl on 50% power until smooth and runny, about 30 to 60 seconds.
  2. Beat milk and pudding mix in a medium bowl until the mixture begins to thicken, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add peanut butter and continue beating another 2 minutes until combined.
  3. Cover and refrigerate until set, at least five minutes.
http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/10/thursday-things-a-better-way-to-chop-onions-owl-facts-peanut-butter-pudding-and-more/

galette de rois

king cake 0999

Yesterday Future Husband and I were discussing food items. He said dinner “looked great” and I said something about how I was more concerned about how it tasted than how it looked and he said “well your food always looks good AND tastes good” (isn’t he just ever so sweet?). I replied that it wasn’t true, that sometimes my food looked ugly but tasted great anyway, to which he agreed.

The then followed with, “Or sometimes food looks great but it tastes AWFUL” to which I shot him a look and said “BUT NEVER MY FOOD OF COURSE!” where he caught himself and said “No, of course not your food. Never your food!”

No. Of course not my food. That would just be crazy.

Well this, my friends, falls into the middle category. Looks like the pastry equivalent of a melting burn victim but tastes like angel wings and unicorn glitter.

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In fact, if I had to rate this cake on a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is best,  this cake gets a 2 on looks but on flavor… YOU GUYS the flavor… This flavor goes to 11.

Which is one more than ten.

Anyway, this was my attempt to make David Lebowitz’s galette de rois (aka: king cake).

The concept of king cake is thusly: You make a cake, you hide a “feve”. Your feve can be pretty much anything: a candy, a nut, a chocolate chip, or even a tiny toy… I recommend against the latter only because I am rarely eating at a speed at which choking is not already a hazard and I have no need to tempt my fate by including inedible objects in my baking. When cutting and serving your cake, HE WHO GETS THE FEVE RULES THE WORLD, or good luck, or fortune, or any variety of things depending on your region and the type of king cake you are enjoying. I’m not totally filled in on the whole history of king cake, I am much more knowledgeable about eating it.

As luck would have it, out of this whole cake the very first slice FH cut sliced right through the feve… which was extra alarming to him because he was (1) unaware of what king cake was (2) definitely unaware that there was anything hiding inside of it (3) afraid that I was trying to poison him.

After I reassured him that it was just a dried cherry and that it meant he could have been “the king” for the day had he been better at cutting things, we both had half of a feve. I think that means we are both half lucky for a year… or maybe 100% lucky for half of a year… I’m not really sure how this whole thing works. Maybe he canceled out all the luck by cutting right through the feve, that’s the more likely scenario.

Anyway, this cake was supposed to look like this:

It did not.

I could have cried and decided not to post it, or made a whole new one altogether, but having already consumed my weight in my “failed” king cake (and thoroughly enjoying it), I didn’t have it in me to make another one. Plus I was out of almond paste and the store always seems much farther when your belly is full of puff pastry and almonds.

Turns out all that filling that leaked out and baked on its own, that stuff is FREAKING DELICIOUS. In fact, I’ve been thinking about making a whole batch of the filling, spreading it out on a baking sheet, and baking the crap out of it because IT WAS THAT GOOD GUYS. Seriously. So good.

I’m sure it’s equally good (maybe even better) piled inside of the cake, as per Mr. Lebowitz’s picture above. My cake had much less filling (obviously, given the glorious almond paste puddle surrounding it) but was still irresistibly delicious, not to mention super easy to make… assuming that you can properly seal your edges unlike SOME PEOPLE. (/looks around)

king cake 1007

The moral of the story (if there is one) is that sometimes when you’re baking things don’t always go to plan.Your caramel will burn, sugar will explode all over your kitchen, or your mug cake will overflow and fill your microwave with (delicious) cake batter.

These things happen.

And when they do… you have a choice. You have the choice to give up or to try again.

You also have the choice to eat the crap out of your “failed” item anyway and just accept that the baking gods are just not with you on that day.

So, without further adieu, here is the recipe for David Lebowit’z galette de rois. Remember to seal the edges very tightly. Or don’t, it’s up to you really.

galette de rois

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 50 minutes

Yield: 1 9-inch cake

Ingredients

    Almond Filling
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 1/2 ounces unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/8 teaspoon almond extract
  • 1 pound (or 1 package) puff pastry, divided in two pieces, chilled
  • 1 feve (an almond, dried fruit, piece of candy, the choice is yours!)
  • Egg wash
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 teaspoon milk

Instructions

    For the almond filling
  1. Combine the almond flour, sugar, and salt in a large bowl or stand mixer with a paddle attachment. Add the cubed butter and mix until it’s completely incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time, and then add the vanilla and almond extracts. The mixture will be grainy, but that's ok. Cover and chill for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Prepare the puff pastry
  3. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  4. On lightly floured surface, roll one piece of puff pastry into a circle or square about 9 1/2-inches wide. Using a cake pan or pot lid, trim the dough into neat circle.* Place the dough on the baking sheet.
  5. Cover the dough with a sheet of parchment paper or plastic film, then roll and trim the other piece of dough and lay it on top. Chill the dough for thirty minutes.
  6. Assemble the galette de rois
  7. Remove the dough and almond filling from the refrigerator. Remove the top layer of dough and parchment or plastic from pan so that there is only one circle of dough on the parchment lined baking sheet.
  8. Spread the almond filling over the center of the dough, leaving a 1-inch exposed border.
  9. Strategically place your chosen feve somewhere in the almond filling,
  10. Brush water generously around the exposed perimeter of the dough then place the other circle of dough on top and press down very firmly to seal the edges very well.**
  11. To bake the galette, preheat the oven to 375ºF and decorate the top of your galette as desired by slicing into, but not through, the galette to create a design.
  12. Stir together the egg yolk with the milk and brush it evenly over the top. Try to avoid getting the glaze on the sides of the galette, as it will prevent the pastry from rising at the edges.
  13. Use a paring knife to poke 5 holes in the top, to allow steam escape while baking.
  14. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the galette is browned on top and up the sides.***
  15. Remove from the oven and slide the galette off the baking sheet and onto a cooling rack. The galette will deflate as it cools, which is normal. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Notes

*As far as I can tell, trimming the cake into a circle serves no real purpose. Next time I think I will roll the pastry sheets into 9 to 10-inch squares and bake in a square shape (less wasted puff pastry!)

**Seal the edges VERY WELL. Like, Really well. David decorated his all pretty-like even

***During baking, if the galette puffs up too much, you may poke it once or twice again with a paring knife to release the steam.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/04/08/galette-de-rois/

[ Adapted from David Lebowitz ]

 

thursday things – broccoli stems, proper salting, and laser-engraved rolling pins

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Ever since I got my new waffle iron I’ve been wanting to make crazy waffled concoctions, so far this is the craziest I’ve gotten. We will need to remedy this soon.

I had originally intended to include this video for today’s cuteness, but then I found this one (below) instead.

I have no idea how this much cute was packed into less than two minutes of video, but it seriously made my day. Like a thousand times over.

In other news, am I the only one who has apparently been wasting my broccoli stems?? She shouldn’t have posted that on April 1st because I’m still not sure if it’s a joke or not… I’m going to test this for us though. Don’t worry, I’ll be our guinea pig.

And apparently we are all under-seasoning our dishes… I know I’m definitely guilty of that one. No matter how much salt I put into a dish I know that FH is just going to salt it up anyway, so I try to trick him into consuming less salt by under-salting our meals…

Have you seen these amazing laser-engraved rolling pins? I can’t think of a better way to spend $42… can you? DINOSAUR ALL THE THINGS!!!

Some Kitchen Stories has released their April desktop calendar and it is filled to the top with spring. I’m sure staring at risotto all day can’t be that bad, right? Plus, vegetables!

Serious Eats just did an expose (can I call it that? Sure, why not?) on “The Life of a Cook’s Illustrated Test Cook” and I realize I’m a huge nerd but, um, you should read it.

Also, remember Shannon’s post once upon a time ago about how us bloggers “get out there” in the world? Well, we met (kinda) through Serious Eats “Share Your Sweets” slideshows. And you don’t have to be a blogger even to share your sweet! This week’s sweet is the Oatmeal Cookie. I know you all have an oatmeal cookie recipe. Make it, snap a pic, and shoot it over to Serious Eats!

I talked about the @Idafrosk instagram account ages ago, but she’s just been mentioned on 123inspiration so I thought I would give another shout-out since I love her pictures SO MUCH.

In other news, not only have mad scientists reversed aging in mice, but apparently I’m going to live forever. Oh, and fat is no longer bad for us. Well, not as bad as all those low-fat foods they’ve been marketing to us.

Also, apparently I wasn’t the only person who hated Starbucks’ “La Boulange” food items and the company is responding to their customers by bringing back some of the old items (yay!) I picked up a slice of their lemon loaf this morning to celebrate its return. Oh, how I missed you.

Oh, and Kim Kardashian narrowly escaped death (or you know, being touched by an elephant) and made a priceless face while doing so.

Thanks, Kim, for making my day that much brighter. Can’t wait to see that episode next season.

As for the recipes… 

I want to dive into this soft pile of naan pillows

Shower myself in these honey roasted chickpeas

Drown myself in these cucumber + ginger mojitos

Stuff my face with this turkey bacon meatloaf

And devour at least one pan of these Reese’s brownies. Or at least the frosting. Look at the frosting. LOOK AT IT!