thursday things – pumpkin explosion and a new lawn mower

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Happy Thursday!

We’ve been catching up on yard work at our house. The back yard had essentially turned into a jungle, which was super weird since we live in the desert. You see, we have a small grassy area in the back yard and our lawnmower broke a few months ago so we have been unable to mow it.

Well, if you ask me, the lawn mower broke like two years ago and Mr. Eats has just been constantly resuscitating it time and time again, breathing just enough life into it for “one more mow”…

I finally was able to convince him that all the time and effort he puts into fixing it every single time it breaks wasn’t worth it and it was time for a new one. He relented on that topic, but would not listen to me on the part about how whatever new lawn mower he chose was definitely not going to fit into his trunk.

I’ve heard that men are stubborn and I’m certainly glad Mr. Eats doesn’t have that problem.

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Trader Joe’s is pimping the heck out of pumpkin this year. It’s medium out of control. There’s pumpkin mochi, pumpkin cream cheese, pumpkin kringle, pumpkin Joe Joes and even pumpkin-spiced pumpkin seeds.

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It’s PUMPKINCEPTION.

Also out of control, these new speculoos cups which I could not allow myself to buy. I know where that road goes, and it is dangerous.

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Delicious, but dangerous. Oh, and next to it? A jar of cookies and cream cookie butter. Because that’s necessary.

Meanwhile in other parts of the world…

Movita has kicked off her 2014 pumpkin carve off, and I will conveniently be out of town on business during the last week of October which means if I am going to enter I better do it SOON (and my pumpkin will certainly expire long before Halloween gets here).

Imgur found the (new) angriest cat ever.

Thrillist took it upon themselves to answer the question nobody was asking, can you bake the cookie dough from cookie dough ice cream?

TheKitchn told us why chickens don’t need no man to lay eggs.

Food52 is helping us get the most out of our slow cookers.

The world now has Dominique Ansel’s cronut recipe.

Chipotle teamed up with Slow Food to do some pretty cool stuff with schools.

These firefighters saved an entire family of hamsters with the world’s cutest oxygen masks.

And this kangaroo is kicking some serious tail… (hehe, get it? KICKING TAIL? Nevermind…)

And here are some things I want to put in my face:

These Doritos migas from Serious Eats

This beautiful swedish dream cake from The Sugar Hit.

This slow cooker parmesan tomato soup from Cooking & Beer.

This glorious Sangria made with gummy bears from My Name is Yeh.

This muhammara dip from Aida Mollenkamp.

pumpkin challah

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‘Tis the season for pumpkin and I’ve been practicing my bread braiding lately so naturally my next step would be to braid pumpkin. I mean, duh, obviously.

I believe challah is traditionally a four-rope braid and, although my skills are vastly improved from my first attempt, I have not quite achieved that level of skill yet. So, for the sake of everyone’s sanity, I stuck with practicing my three rope braid. Next time I think I will be ready to level up my skills to four ropes.

Having never made challah, apparently there are about a bajillion different recipes and a katrillion ways to make it, so basically every source of research was useless to me. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to keep it dairy-free, because I feel like if you’re putting dairy in your challah it is no longer challah.

Not that it isn’t some other dairy-licious egg bread, it’s just not challah. Not really. And why would I want to have not-challah when I was craving challah?

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The end result was surprisingly good, especially when you take into consideration that I had almost no idea what I was doing. It had the perfect challah texture that I was looking for. Though the pumpkin gives the bread a stunning orange hue, the pumpkin’s flavor wasn’t overly pronounced. In fact, if you left out the cinnamon and spices you could easily serve it alongside dinner.  Either version will transform beautifully into french toast or bread pudding, but more on that coming later.

This bread, like all bread, is best eaten the day its made but will freeze beautifully as well. Since I lost my memory card last weekend when I made this bread, these pictures are actually from my defrosted loaf.

pumpkin challah

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 50 minutes

Total Time: 4 hours, 20 minutes

Yield: 1 loaf challah

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 package instant dry yeast
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 eggs + 2 egg yolks, whites reserved
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 3 Tablespoons + 1 Tablespoon neutral vegetable oil; divided
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour + 1 cup, reserved
  • 1 Tablespoon pumpkin pie spice

Instructions

    Make the dough
  1. Mix yeast with water and sugar; set aside 5 minutes until foamy.
  2. In a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, beat in the pumpkin, 3 tablespoons oil, honey, eggs, yolks, and salt. Beat on medium speed until combined.
  3. Add 1 cup of flour and beat on low until combined. Add additional cup and continue beating until combined.
  4. Continue adding remaining 2 cups flour, 1 cup at a time, kneading until smooth and elastic.
  5. If the dough is too wet and stick, continue adding last cup of flour, 1 cup at a time, until the dough becomes smooth. I actually ended up dumping mine out onto the counter to knead by hand so that I could judge the texture better. You want it to be soft enough to keep a dent when your finger pokes it, but not sticky enough to stick to your finger.
  6. Once desired consistency is reached, pour 1 tablespoon of oil into a large bowl. Add dough to bowl and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set in a warm place until doubled in size 60 to 90 minutes.
  7. Shape the dough
  8. Once doubled in size, gentlly punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly-floured surface.
  9. Divide into 3 equal portions, and roll each into a 14 to 17-inch rope. (You could do a 4 or more ropes of dough but I'm not that skilled).
  10. Once braided, place onto baking sheet and cover with oiled plastic wrap or a kitchen towel and set in a warm place to proof until doubled in size, another 60 - 90 minutes.
  11. When nearing the end of the bread proofing time, preheat the oven to 375 F. I usually set mine above the stove and turn the stove on about 30 minutes into proofing. The heat from the stove warms the top of the oven just enough to give my bread an extra boost.
  12. Beat remaining two egg whites. Brush bread with egg white and place into oven. Bake 40 to 50 minutes.
  13. Check on the bread at the 30 minute mark, if it is browning too quickly tent with foil and continue cooking. You can tell the bread is done when it is a beautiful deep golden brown and is firm and hollow when tapped. The internal temperature should be around 190F, for those of you who are into that sort of thing.

Notes

This bread, like all bread, is best eaten the day it is baked but will freeze beautifully as well. To freeze bread, wrap tightly in plastic wrap then again in foil to freeze. Thaw bread still wrapped at room temperature for a few hours or overnight.

If you don't want to make this all in one day, you could allow the bread to do its first rise overnight in the fridge. Bring to room temperature for 30 minutes to one hour before proceeding with shaping the dough.

http://wee-eats.com/2014/10/07/pumpkin-challah/

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thursday things – bad luck and potato salad

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My favorite time of year is here – IT’S FALL IT’S FALL IT’S FALL! Although I don’t get to enjoy the smell of crisp fall mornings nor enjoy watching the leafs change colors, I do get a reprieve from triple digit temperatures.  I don’t think we hit 100 at all this week and I’m feeling super pumped about it.

My plan this week, guys, was to get back into the swing of things. I had a plan to make all the things, photograph those things, and then tell you all about those things. I made it 2/3 of the way through that plan. I made all the things, I photographed those things, and then I promptly lost my camera’s SD card, and therefore all the pictures of the things I had made, and then I cried a thousand tears of sadness. (Not really, but I was medium annoyed).

I had put the card in my pocket for safe-keeping and apparently was unaware that there was a black hole in my pocket that was hungry for SD cards. I retraced my steps over and over and over again looking for my poor little card but alas there was no card to be found.

Fear not, I have ordered a new SD card for the camera which, with any luck, should arrive in time for this weekend and for new cooking adventures. Which MEANS, there is a chance I can get back on the blog-wagon by next week.

*Fingers-crossed**Knock on wood**Whatever-else-you-do-to-create-good-luck*

So, instead of all the pumpkin things I made last weekend, you get this. Which is a potato salad that I made for a BBQ at my father in law’s house. I snapped a quick picture on my iPhone before we left the house so I decided I would share it with you because something is better than nothing, right? :)

potato salad

 

easy potato salad

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds redskin potatoes, diced into 1/2-inch cubes
  • Chicken stock (or vegetable stock, or water); enough to cover the potatoes by at least 1 inch
  • 1 Tablespoon of salt
  • 1 large shallot, finely minced
  • 3 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 4 slices bacon, finely diced
  • 3 Tablespoons (ish) fresh-snipped chives, reserve some for decoration
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 to 2 Tablespoon sour cream
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons yellow or stone ground mustard
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon smoked paprika*
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste

Instructions

    Prepare the potatoes:
  1. Dice potatoes and put into a large pot. Cover with water or stock by 1-inch and add tablespoon of salt.
  2. Bring pot of potatoes to a boil over high heat and cook until potatoes are slightly tender but still firm. (You should be able to easily pierce them with a fork but you don't want them to fall apart when you do so).
  3. Strain potatoes and set aside to cool slightly. Taste one piece of potato so that you know how much salt you will need to add to the dressing.
  4. Make the dressing:
  5. In a large bowl mix mayo, sour cream, mustard, paprika, garlic powder, and a generous helping of salt and pepper. A dash of hot sauce or chipotle is good here too, if you're into that sort of thing. It's not against the rules to try a taste of the dressing before you toss the potatoes in to make sure that the flavor is balanced. Keep in mind you want it to taste a bit "strong" plain since the potatoes will absorb and mute the flavor a bit.
  6. Combine:
  7. Throw the potatoes into the bowl with the dressing and toss to combine. Add the shallot, celery, bacon, and chives and continue tossing to combine. If necessary, add another tablespoon or two of mayo or sour cream.*
  8. Once your salad is tossed to your liking, place in the fridge uncovered until chilled (to avoid that pesky condensation). Once chilled, cover tightly with plastic wrap until ready to serve. Potato can be made (and is usually better made) one day ahead.
  9. Sprinkle with extra chives and paprika just before serving to make it look pretty.

Notes

*I like my potato salad to have a bit more "kick" so I tend to be a little heavy-handed with my spices. If you're afraid of smoked paprika, start with the smaller 1 teaspoon amount. If not, go for the larger amount.

*I tend to like my potato salad to be very lightly-dressed, others prefer theirs to be loaded with mayo. If you prefer the latter, feel free to add more mayo and/or sour cream to your dressing, you'll get no judgment from me!

http://wee-eats.com/2014/10/02/thursday-things-bad-luck-and-potato-salad/

thursday things and a real ice cream sandwich

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I know I’ve been really busy lately and have neglected the “food” section of this food blog. Shame on me. Don’t worry, I will get cooking again soon. I promise. Just once we finish unpacking from that trip we took last week… :)

I mean, I HAVE BEEN MAKING STUFF. Honest! I even made A Periodic Table’s tsoureki last weekend – see? Learn from my mistake – Don’t mash the ends of the braid together until you’re ABSOLUTELY 100% SURE THAT YOU’RE NOT MAKING A ROUND LOAF.

It is also helpful to make sure that you roll out your ropes to a length that you know will fit on your sheet pan, so that you don’t have to turn your regular loaf into a round loaf because it’s too big for your sheet pan… Not that I learned that from experience or anything…

Though it’s not as beautiful as hers, I’m sure it tasted every bit as good. And it definitely made some killer french toast. I mean, it tasted really good, not that it went on a murder spree or anything.

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In other super extremely important food news – TRADER JOE’S HAS PUMPKIN KRINGLE!!! So RUN DON’T WALK (or – even better – drive (safely)!) to your nearest Trader Joe’s and GET IT BEFORE IT’S ALL GONE BECAUSE IT’S FLIPPIN’ DELICIOUS! So much so that I even had to use ALL CAPS to express my excitement. Just do it.

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Apparently maple water is a thing and now I’m super intrigued and need to find it.

And so is Kale Soda, which I fully intend to locate at our local hippie grocer.

Oreo released their Pumpkin Spice flavor yesterday and for the first time ever my usual grocer actually had the new Oreos on release day! Clearly it was a sign that I had to buy them, even though I was fairly confident that they would probably taste like perfume. You know, for science.

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And, the verdict? Surprisingly not terrible. Although the cookies definitely smell like a pumpkin-scented candle they do not taste like potpourri. They actually taste kinda… good. They have a decent amount of pumpkin-spice flavor that really pairs well with the vanilla cookies. I think the cookies actually mute the flavor of the filling ever so slightly to prevent it from being overwhelming. I was pleasantly surprised.

In case you, like me, end up in various random debates about things like the difference between apple juice and cider, turns out there really isn’t one (depending on where you come from). So just agree to disagree and move on with your lives, OK? It’s better for everyone. :)

This New Mexico dairy farm became my hero when it fired all of its workers when it found out they were abusing its animals.

Krispy Kreme has Ghostbusters donuts for the month of October because, well, Ghostbusters is awesome.

If you’re a fan of Arrested Development, you’ll probably love a few of these Lucille Bluth quotes

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And now, since you’ve been so patient with me… a (kind of) recipe.

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There is one huge issue I have with these alleged “ice cream sandwiches” – mainly that they aren’t actually sandwiches. They are cookies with ice cream in between them.

If you made a roast beef sandwich with cookies on the outside I am certain that people would tell you that it was NOT a sandwich, yet somehow if you put ice cream in between the cookies it’s totally OK.

This, on the other hand, is a real ice cream sandwich. Using a sweet “bread” (well, cake baked into a bread shape, which is way more sandwich-y than a cookie). Although, I suspect that a sweet brioche or challah would do just fine in this application.

thursday things and a real ice cream sandwich

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf loaf cake or quick bread, even challah or brioche would work!
  • 1 to 2 pints ice cream (depending on how much you want to spread as filling), softened

Instructions

  1. Slice pound cake into desired number of slices (thinner slices = more sandwiches!)
  2. Spread softened ice cream onto one slice of your loaf and top with other slice. Quickly wrap in plastic wrap and place in freezer.

Notes

I used my condensed milk pound cake and cherries and cream biscuits recipes but any loaf cake/bread and ice cream should work (even store bought)

http://wee-eats.com/2014/09/25/thursday-things-and-a-real-ice-cream-sandwich/

Oh, and here is a video of a helper puppy because my bestie sent it to me and it’s amazing. Enjoy!

thursday things – WE GOT MARRIED!

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HAPPY THURSDAY! It’s my first Thursday as a WIFE.

Crazy, right?

Last Thursday Future Husband and I hit the road to drop the “Future” from his name and turn it into just plain “Husband” – 358 miles later we arrived in sunny San Diego for our relaxing beach wedding in sunny and cool San Diego.

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What we did not anticipate was that apparently they were going to have the heat wave of the century. So, although San Diego “never needs a/c” we definitely could have benefited from it on this trip. We were all a little melty and cranky, but all in all things went off without a hitch! (Except for those of us getting hitched, of course).

Considering the whole event was planned via e-mail and yelp reviews I couldn’t have wished for more. We chose Dream Beach Weddings for our ceremony and they were so kind and helpful throughout the whole process. They even recommended our dinner location (which ended up being delicious).

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The ceremony was super small – just 15 of our closest family members (plus 1 BFF) – all who took the time out of their busy lives to fly across the country to be with us on our big day. That’s the whole gang right up there. We got married on Coronado Beach near the Hotel Del Coronado and had an amazing dinner afterwards at Vigilucci’s Ristorante just a half mile up the road from the ceremony location.

And two very special guests of honor courtesy of two ladies who never cease to amaze me ~ Shannon & Rachel. Pardon the photo below as it was taken in very poor lighting conditions with my iPhone :) But those are the guests of honor in action. :)

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Of course there is plenty happening in the rest of the world but I’ve been a little busy  on my end. I promise to have more for you in the weeks to come and for now – thanks for stopping by and have a happy weekend!

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