Monday, February 28, 2011

Pretzel Bites

Due to my recent tragedies with yeast, I have taken a much needed hiatus from the production of all things yeast:  breads, rolls, loaves and the like.  I was wounded by all of my yeast failures.  I have no idea what the problem is really.  My yeast products are not turning out correctly.  Maybe its the type of yeast I am using? Is it due to the fact I am trying to substitute one type of yeast when the recipe calls for another? Am I over-kneading?  I may never know.  Thank God for Wal-mart brand flour being so cost effective lol.  It allows me to continue to screw things up haha!

Yesterday, I decided to go ahead and try my hand at the Pretzel Bites from Mels Kitchen Cafe.  She posted these a while back but I was honestly still too traumatized from my French Bread disaster that I wasn't emotionally prepared.

Let me go way out in left field for a moment here.  Being emotionally prepared is a big phrase and it is very important for some major things in life.  Like pap smears and mammograms.  Also for skin biopsies of the scalp which I discussed here.  Being emotionally ready means you need to totally psych yourself out for the impending shocker.  I think the previous three examples qualify don't you?  So does baking with yeast!

If you are still reading...guess what?  I DID IT!  LOL

Admittedly, these are a skosh too dark.  But I swear at 6 minutes they had white on them and at 6 minutes and 30 seconds they looked like this!  These could have used more butter, possibly even dunking them in melted butter rather than brushing on the tops.  They were a tad bland.  Although, could this be because of the type of yeast I used?  Not enough salt in the actual dough? See I need a yeast master people....a Mr. Miyagi of the yeast kingdom to teach me, his grasshopper, what the hell I am doing wrong! Other than being a bit bland they were also lacking that chewy factor.  So picture this:  If you bite one in half, the remaining bit should be stuck together - thats what I mean by "chewy" factor.  Mine didn't have that.  Again, it could be the yeast, a tad over baked or a tad over-kneaded.  

Lets get to the good stuff, because there is plenty of that.  These things are a CINCH!  Gosh I love my KitchenAid Stand Mixer!  I did not follow the directions as far as how to cut into the bite sized pieces.  I really didn't want to roll and over work the dough. I was being thoughtful to the dough ok?  I just made, what I considered, bite size pieces and I achieved this with a pizza cutter.  I don't own one of those big ol square pastry chopper/scrapper things.  I need one.  I'm new so I have to improvise.  The pizza cutter worked fine.  The single most important step...ok there are two most important steps...the first is this:  dipping the bites in a bath of baking soda and water before baking...OMG'SH!  It gives these pieces such a unique crunch that was extremely addicting.  Yes, even Jalen got in trouble several times for sneaking in there and eating more...and more...and more...all the way up until dinner.  ADDICTING crunch people.  The second most important step is the bathing of the butter.  Like I said earlier the dough was a tad bland and could have used some more butter.  The result?  Fattening and delicious.  I WILL be trying these babies again.  I could see them dipped in a marinara or nacho know that big giant blue container of it you can get from Costco?  Gawd I love that stuff.  I can't eat it right now because of the salt content BUT when I am off the roids...BRING IT ON!

*NOTE:  As I was making breakfast this morning, it was with sheer horror I realized I had forgotten to post the recipe to this lol...Its the steroids and lack of sleep I swear :)

*Makes about 2 dozen pretzel bites
Courtesy of Mel's Kitchen Cafe
2 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
1 cup (8 ounces) very warm water
1/2 cup (4 ounces) warm water
2 tablespoons baking soda
Coarse salt (optional)
3 tablespoons butter, melted
In a large bowl or the bowl of an electric mixer, place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. Mix to just combine. Add the water and mix well, adding more flour, as needed, a bit at a time to form a soft, smooth dough that clears the sides and bottom of the bowl. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, until it is soft, smooth and quite slack. The goal is to get a really soft dough that isn’t overly sticky. Lightly flour the dough and place it in a plastic bag; close the bag, leaving room for the dough to expand, and let it rest for 30 minutes or up to 60 minutes.
Preheat your oven to 500°F. Don’t be afraid of the high heat! This is what will help those pretzels to brown up perfectly and stay soft on the inside. Prepare two baking sheets by lining them with parchment paper or lightly greasing them.
Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into about four strips of equal length. Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes. While the dough is resting, combine the 1/2 cup warm water and the baking soda in a liquid measuring cup (deep enough to dip the pretzel bites into). Make sure the baking soda is thoroughly dissolved. Sometimes I have a hard time getting the baking soda completely dissolved, so I just lightly stir up the mixture right before adding each pretzel.
Cut each strip of dough into about 6-8 pieces, about 1 to 1 ½ inches in width. You don’t have to be completely exact, just eyeball it. Dip each pretzel bite in the baking soda solution (this will give the pretzels a nice, golden-brown color), and place them on the baking sheets. Sprinkle them lightly with coarse, kosher, or pretzel salt. Allow them to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.
Bake the pretzels for 7-8 minutes or until they’re golden brown. Bake one sheet at a time – it won’t hurt the other pretzels to chill out for a little longer.
Remove the pretzels from the oven, and brush them thoroughly with the melted butter. Keep brushing the butter on until you’ve used it all up; it may seem like a lot, but that’s what gives these pretzels their ethereal taste. Eat the pretzels warm, or reheat them in an oven or microwave on low heat.

Hello Cupcake!

More like Hello Retard!  Yep that's me...absolutely no piping skills what-so-ever and apparently no direction reading skills either.  Ok ok you're right, I am my own worst critic.  So let me back up...

I have been wanting this book from Amazon for awhile now:

So while at Lowe's I eyeballed the book and wanted some instant gratification and paid double for it.  I immediately poured over each and every page, strategically skimming over the detailed instructions at the beginning of the book.  I laid my eyes on the Sunflower Cupcakes and hatched a plan.  That plan was carried out yesterday.  Here are the results:

Do you immediately notice there are only FOUR cupcakes?  I made a half a batch which are twelve for those who don't know lol.  Jalen got three.  These are the only one's that were presentable.

So here is what I noticed throughout the process.  Don't use generic cookies in your recipes if you need them to be whole.  They shed...crumble, get all over the place.  BOO!  So every time I touched the bag to the cookie to make a petal it would literally fall off because the cookie crumbled.  

Another problem was the method used for tinting the frosting took FOREVER!  So I got all A.D.D. and left the cupcake base as light green instead of a deep grass green.  You literally dip a toothpick in the gel coloring then in the frosting, back and forth until you achieve the desired color.  WHATEVER GAWD that took forever.  Again, please keep in mind I am more of an instant gratification girl.  

Also, I couldn't find green fruit roll ups ANYWHERE.  If you have a stunted imagination like me, you will have a hard time finding a substitute.  I used some sour flat candy and cut it with tiny scissors into leaves.  

Lastly, I did go back at one point and read the directions on how to cut the tip of the bag to make beautiful little leaves and petals and I think I personally needed on more photo of how to do it.  It showed a little V in the baggie....I tried, maybe I cut the hole too big? Maybe I shoulda opted for the M cut out instead of the V? OH AND the frosting was very thin :(  Maybe a different brand or I could have tried to stick in the fridge for 15 minutes to firm it back up duh lol

All in all I am not sorry I paid double for the book or bought a 100 different items in order to make these four cupcakes.  It was great practice.  Which I needed.  And fun even if it only resulted in four beautifully imperfect sunflower cupcakes.


Special K

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Easy Slice & Bake Cookies

I have been slightly reluctant to post this next recipe.  You see, I have been looking for that PERFECT sugar cookie.  Considering I am still learning quite a bit, I didn't recognize that the recipe I am about to post is more of a shortbread cookie and not a sugar cookie.  DUH lol!  Because I was so unimpressed by their "sugar cookie quality" I only baked up a few and only took one picture of them.  I baked them up next to a new sugar cookie recipe and ate them again only to realize, hey these really melt in your mouth!

Here is the absolute beauty of these cookies...Its one recipe that can be adapted to numerous amounts of flavor combinations.  Seriously.  These are cran-pistachio.  The other flavor I made was lemon poppyseed.  Then I drizzled those with lemon icing.

These are a breeze to whip up.  Now getting them into said "log" shape with exact measurements for me was the challenge.  My cookies came out half dollar size, a skosh small.  The texture was melt in your mouth, light and buttery.  These would be great to keep on hand in the freezer in different combo's for a quick coffee with friends.  They would even fair well on the yearly Christmas platters.  

Slice-and-Bake Cookies
(Courtesy of Smitten Kitchen)
Makes about 50 cookies

2 sticks (8 ounces; 230 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
1 teaspoons vanilla or almond extract
2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour

  • Mix in grated zest of 2 lemons; coat with or mix in 1/4 cup poppy seeds
  • Mix in grated zest of 2 oranges and 1/2 cup dried cranberries 
  • Mix in grated zest of 2 limes; coat with 1/4 cup cornmeal
  • Mix in 1/2 cup chopped dried apricots; mix in 1/2 cup finely chopped pistachios
  • Mix in 1/2 cup mini chocolate or peanut-butter chips
  • Mix in 1/4 cup finely chopped candied ginger; coat with or mix in 1/4 cup sesame seeds
  • Swap 1/4 cup of flour for unsweetened cocoa
  • Swap 1/2 to 1 cup of flour for ground almonds, pecans, hazelnuts or walnuts
1. Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until it is smooth. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and beat again until the mixture is smooth and silky. Beat in the egg yolks, followed by the salt and any dried fruits, zest, nuts or seeds. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, beating just until it disappears. It is better to underbeat than overbeat at this point; if the flour isn't fully incorporated, that’s okay just blend in whatever remaining flour needs blending with a rubber spatula. Turn the dough out onto a counter, gather it into a ball, and divide it in half. Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes. 

 2. Working on a smooth surface, form each piece of dough into a log that is about 1 to 1 1/4 inches (2.5 to 3.2 cm) thick. (Get the thickness right, and the length you end up with will be fine.) Wrap the logs in plastic and chill for 2 hours. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and kept refrigerated for up to 3 days or stored in the freezer for up to 1 month). 

 3. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.  (I used a silpat). 

 4. While the oven is preheating, roll cookie logs in any coatings of your choice. Then, using a sharp slender knife, slice each log into cookies about 1/3 inch (10 mm) thick. (You can make the cookies thicker if you’d like; just bake them longer.) Place the cookies on the lined baking sheets, leaving about 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) space between them. 

 5. Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until they are set but not browned. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool to room temperature. 

Do ahead: Packed airtight, the cookies will keep for about 5 days at room temperature, or in the freezer for a month. Unbaked logs can be frozen for longer.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011


About 8 months ago my life suddenly got...difficult.  Saying that is sort of funny because I am a single mom, I work full time and I have a Primary Immune Deficiency.  So, for me to say that it got hard enough to be considered difficult must be bad right? Right.  In June of 2010 I got sick.  Ok ok I know I have been talking about it but not really sure if I have covered how long I have been sick.  Since June people....of 2010! It started as fatigue, like choose to brush your hair or your teeth before you go to work fatigue.  I kept going to work, shaking it off.  June 18, 2010 after a meeting at work, I left saying I would be back in a day or two.  It is now almost March of 2011.  I went out for 6 weeks with supposed Valley Fever and went back to work.  I got sicker, and sicker and sicker.  During these few months I was back at work, my hair fell out, I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, I lost weight, couldn't remember things.  It. Was. Bad.  I went out again in the end of October.  Then in January, well I finally received my diagnosis and talk about it here and a little more in depth here.

Here's the thing...last week I was sitting in my daughters counselors office ranting...yes I admit I was ranting, about HOW I HAD to get Jalen lined out and listening NOW because I was getting ready to start taking mass amounts of steroids and I didn't want to freak out on her.  It was at this moment that I was given perhaps some of the best advice I could have ever been given at that VERY moment. The counselor told me to just...get through it.  Huh? Can you repeat that? He said sure, let me break it down: If lil Miss Jalen wants to go to school with her hair all GHETTO, then let her.  Don't lose your mind over it.  If she wants to be mismatched, paddy whacked, dressed like a FOO...then let her.  Just. Get. Through. This.

Could it really be so easy?  Its kind of like the "fake it till ya make it" theory that I used to apply to smoking.  I quit smoking no less than 10 times.  When I would start slipping I would..."fib".  Not really lie, just, with hold. I was faking it damit until I could make it!  No one needed to know each time I failed because if anyone knows me they know I already beat myself up way worse than anyone else ever could!  This could be the key to get through the hell of the steroids, the Devil Drug, Satan's Substance.  If I could feel like I was actively participating in getting through this, like I was DOING may work.  All I have to do is remember to breathe.

So what may have started my fractured, nonsense, venting little blog tonight you may ask? I was watching a movie called The Backup Plan with Jennifer Lopez.  It was SO funny!  On a side note, I have NO FREAKING idea who is rating these movies PG-13 but they should be fired.  Oh and side note 2 I had to explain what artificial insemination was to my 7 year old mister person who USED to rate movies! Gawd! Reeling back into the the end...I was crying.  It's a comedy.  Errrrr so I guess thats the steroids?

The crying got me to thinking "hey what the hell am I crying for"?  Because I needed to laugh.  I needed to relate.  I needed to connect.  I NEED to connect.  I need to have some drinks and let my hair down and laugh.  I need to laugh.  I need to breathe.  I just have to remember to breathe and just get through this.

If this post has helped one person retain their sanity then my work on earth is done.  Amen.

Special K

Mini Meatball Sandwiches

I am acutely aware that this picture is covered in SO much mozzarella cheese that you cannot see the delicious marinara I actually made from scratch...please just believe me.  The broken cell phone camera saga STILL continues as well (ugh).  

Let me tell you that this started off as a "quick" meal.  When I say quick think instant.  You can do this one of 3 ways:

1.  Frozen Italian style meatballs & jarred marinara sauce
2.  Make your own meatballs & jarred marinara sauce (thats how the recipe was originally)
3.  Make your own meatballs and marinara sauce (how I decided to go)

I had a pound of 80/20 ground beef and purchased a can of San Marzano style tomatoes.  I followed the directions on the little meatballs precisely HOPING that they wouldn't turn out dry.  HALLELUJAH they did not!  For the sauce I quickly pulsed the tomatoes to a puree (not quite it was a little too chunky actually), added some dried herbs *GASP* yes dried herbs people its all I had (oregano, basil, parsley), minced garlic, salt substitute and pepper.  I simmered until reduced.  Ok here is where I messed up.  When I saw that the marinara was too chunky I should have given it a whirl in the food processor again.  I didn't.  But the taste was delicious.  I know I  know its not a true marinara like I found online, but I didn't have celery and carrots and all that stuff!  This was....kind of sweet.  I just loved the tomatoes! 

Now the bread...omg'sh do I have a pic, let me I don't which is a shame because I am straight addicted to these rolls.  I eat them nearly every day.  There I said it.  I'm a glutton for carbs.  These are little FROZEN artisan style rolls.  Thaw for 5 minutes then throw in your toaster oven for 5 more and you get a deliciously crispy, golden, soft in the middle, rustic roll.  You can get these at Fresh and Easy in the freezer section.  They also have mini loaves too which would work wonderfully I'm assuming.  At first I thought I had made the wrong choice in bread and wondered if a soft, supple potato roll would have been better.  But the more I ate the more I noticed that this bread held its "stuff" wonderfully.  Never getting too soggy to hold or eat.  YUMMY!

Mini Meatball Sandwiches
(courtesy of Pioneer Woman Cooks)
  • 1 pound Ground Chuck Or Ground Beef
  • ½ cups Panko Or Other Bread Crumbs
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • Freshly Ground Black Pepper
  • ½ cups Milk
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • ½ whole Medium Onion, Diced
  • 1 jar (large) Marinara Sauce (or make your own as I did above)
  • 12 whole Dinner Rolls (or Slider Rolls)
  • 4 slices Provolone Cheese, Cut Into Four Wedges Each (I used mozzarella and it was wonderful)

Preparation Instructions

Mix meat with bread crumbs, garlic, salt, pepper, and milk. Knead together with hands. Roll into heaping tablespoon-sized rolls.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for one minute. Add meatballs between the onions and brown for one minute. (You might have to do this in two batches, depending on the size of your skillet.)
Pour in jar of marinara; shake pan gently to mix. Put on lid and allow to simmer for 20 minutes.
When ready to serve, cut each dinner roll in half. Place a wedge of Provolone on the top and bottom of each roll. Spoon a meatball with the sauce onto the bottom bun; top with the top bun.
Serve immediately!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Granulomatous Lymphocytic Interstitial Lung Disease (GLILD)

Description courtesy of National Jewish Hospital 

Interstitial lung disease (ILD) is a broad category of lung diseases that includes more than 130 disorders characterized by scarring (i.e. "fibrosis") and / or inflammation of the lungs. ILD accounts for 15 percent of the cases seen by pulmonologists (lung specialists).
In ILD, the tissue in the lungs becomes inflamed and / or scarred. The interstitium of the lung includes the area in and around the small blood vessels and alveoli (air sacs) where the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide takes place. Inflammation and scarring of the interstitium disrupts this tissue and leads to a decrease in the ability of the lungs to extract oxygen from the air. 
The progression of ILD varies from disease to disease and from person to person. It is important to determine the specific form of ILD in patients because what happens over time and the treatment may differ depending on the cause. Importantly, each person responds differently to treatment, so close monitoring during treatment is important.

I have a form of ILD called GLILD.  I was told this is a particularly rare form caused by my immune disease - Common Variable Immunodeficiency.  It can kill me.  Crazy huh? Say it again but say it as if it's you:  It can kill me.  Let me expand.  If I get sick - flu, sinus infection, anything - and it goes to my lungs, it can be life threatening.  ISN'T THAT INSANE?  Ok ok ok.  I wanted this to be informative and not all about me lol
Precautions must be taken into consideration with this form of ILD.  You can do one of several things:
  1. Go into hiding from the world so you don't get contaminated and die
  2. Go on living life to the fullest not taking any precautions and get sick and die
  3. Find an equal middle - this mid point will be different for everyone.  
Some precautions can be:  
  • Wiping down carts with antibacterial wipes ( I carry travel size in my purse at all times)
  • Wearing masks in the wind
  • Carrying your own pen around to sign things ( I must sign my child in/out of daycare daily)
  • Hand washing
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Educating your family
  • Avoiding sick people or taking precautions when immediate family members are ill
  • Avoiding crowds - bars, concerts, children's classrooms
This is not by any means an exhaustive list.  I even have suggestions for work environments but am hesitant to post until I live my own situation.

Treatments can vary.  It is important to know that it appears that doing nothing, is the wrong way to go.  This is progressive.  I first became ill in June and was initially diagnosed with Valley Fever.  A biopsy was done and NO Valley Fever spores were found but they kept treating me.  At some point the infectious disease expert told the pulmonologist he did not feel it was VF.  He told us this twice yet the pulmonologist kept treating me for it.  Fast forward.  When I went to National Jewish Hospital they told me that the CT Scans from June 2010, October 2010 and January of 2011 all progressively got worse.  Fabulous right?  Doing NOTHING is the wrong thing to do.  The damage with MY type of ILD is irreversible.  Medications can vary.  Popular among doctors are high doses of steroids.  This drug covers a wide range of illnesses and doesn't need to attack and kill anything particular.  There are some new treatments out there that are also being used such as Rituxan (if you have B Cells causing the chaos in your lungs) and Imuran (for T Cells).  Steroids are KNOWN for being bad bad news.  They cause wild mood swings, significant weight gain, sleeplessness.  This is the treatment approach they are taking for me.  Bummer I know.  I am armed with an arsenal of questions for my family doctor and a long list of additional medications such as Foxomax for osteoporosis, Calcium with Vitamin D for bone loss, multivitamin, Xanax to help me sleep and possibly something stronger as it isn't working so well, Ativan is on standby in case I lose my marbles and go into a rage about something.  Scary huh? Um yeah.  

I think I will be chronicling my experience with the medications and tips and tricks I have for steroid use.  I've already tried to buy food that is lower in sodium.  Man that stuff is in EVERYTHING.  Ridiculous.  I'm starting to exercise everyday.  Weight gain will be my enemy.  Moon face is probably unavoidable but I will be asking doc about Lasix as well.

I also started a support group for people with ILD.  I couldn't find one.  I think its important.  Very important as most people have no idea what it is like to walk around every day wondering if that sneeze you just walked through is the one that will kill you.  You can find the support group here at:

Goodbye for now.  

Much love,


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Lemon Cheesecake Cupcakes

I. AM. IN. LOVE.  No really.  I have been in love with Lemon Cheesecake Cupcakes from Gimme Some Sugar Bakery here in town for about two years now.  Tonight, I made something so similar that I am in definite infatuation right now.  Not in love with mine obviously because I am nothing near the master that Stephanie at the bakery is.  BUT, in a pinch, these will do.  If you don't have the money or just have an inclination to get busy in the kitchen you MUST MUST try these babies!

I actually adapted my own recipe (grins from ear to ear).  Yep.  First time ever!  I adapted the famous WASC cake I spoke about, but, er um, totally forgot to post.  I used half of a box of yellow cake mix, added some sour cream, lemon juice, zest, didn't over mix and sure didn't over bake and VOILA!  I also used a lemon cream cheese recipe from  Then for some added flair, I made a very bad attempt at piping.  Oh LAWDY do I need practice.  But hey we tried right?

The cake is dense and very moist.  Not overly lemony, you could actually easily adjust the lemon taste to your liking.  I used zest and juice from one lemon and it gave me about 1/3 cup of juice.  Then I added water to make 2/3 cup of liquid total.

Please, if you love me, pretend that you see little crumbles of graham cracker on the top.

And if you really love me please pretend you haven't noticed that I don't have a new PHONE YET!

Look at my lil pastry chef in the making

Lemon Cheesecake Cupcakes
(By Kelli - makes 12 - for beginning bakers)

1/2 box yellow cake mix (approx 1 1/2 cups of mix)
1/2 cup AP flour
1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 egg whites

Preheat oven to 325.  Line cupcake pan with liners.  Throw all ingredients into your stand mixer and mix on low-medium with the paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes.  You don't want to over mix and make the cake tough. Pour batter into prepared muffin cups about 2/3 of the way full.  Bake for 20-23 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into cake comes out with moist crumbs.  DO NOT OVER BAKE.  It should not be brown at all.  Let cool completely and top with Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting.

Lemon Cream Cheese Frosting
(Courtesy of

  • 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 5 cups confectioners' sugar

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Its time to hang up my apron

Boy have I had some epic failures in the kitchen lately.  Bad.  Ok...maybe not EPIC failures...whats a good adjective? Abysmal?  Hmmmm Gargantuan?  Let's go with abysmal failures.  Edible ONLY if it were the last thing on the planet.  I have made Caramel Crumb bars which were quite good but the filling needed an extreme make over.  Salted caramel brownies are the ones I was most looking forward too which turned out the worst.  Oh yeah, then there is the WASC cake.  Apparently I do not like almond extract.  Oops there, I just threw up in my mouth at the thought of it again.  As a matter of fact, it is still sitting on my counter as I can't bring myself close enough to it to actually throw it away.  I did have minor success with my very first Shepherds Pie.  Although Jalen violently heaved with every spoonful.  Yes I made her eat it, half of it to be exact.  She likes ground beef and carrots my GAWD and I thought I was a drama queen.  Sigh.  

I will post recipes for some but lets dissect this a little shall we?  Could it be there was a flaw in the recipes?  The salted caramel brownies for example.  The first time I made the caramel I burnt the TAR out of it!  I had to re-do it.  It was a strange recipe to me to begin with.  I literally re-read the recipe 3 times before starting.  Put the sugar in a pan and melt.  Wha? Huh?  With what liquid?  It must be a misprint.  Nope.  PUT THE SUGAR IN THE PAN TO MELT.  ER um ok.  When it turns a dark amber color melt the butter.  When it turns amber NOT BLACK Kelli.  DANG IT!  Try again.  The second time perfect.  It said to wait 10 minutes and let cool before using in recipe.  Ok.  1 hour later it was still liquid.  I put it in the fridge.  Still very runny.  It says "put 9 dollops of caramel onto brownies".  When something is liquidy, there are no dollops.  I pressed on and baked them bad boys up.  What did I get?  ZERO caramel dollops in my baked brownie.  Not only that, it had a gritty texture, almost chalky.   GROSS! GROSS! GROSS!  I should have used my caramel recipe huh?  The perpetrator is pictured below:

NO that is not caramel behind the brownie I think its bbq sauce ok people! Yes I could have lied and said "ooohhh look at the lovely caramel dripping off of it".  I'm honest to a fault LOL

Next is the famous WASC cake.  White Almond Sour Cream Cake.  Ok little did I know, I do not like Almond Extract.  Had I known, I would have used something different.  This may be better with a vanilla bean, MAY meaning POSSIBLY.  I also think I over baked it for simple fear of under baking it.  I should have listened to my gut.  Stomach.  You get the drift.  The perpetrator is below:

I will post this recipe separately with a slice picture as well so you can see the crumb.  This is a nice buttercream frosting.  Good but I would maybe only use it on cupcakes.  Really not a good pairing with the cake.  Would do better with a cream cheese or whipped frosting which are not a sweet.

I also, in between, didn't feel like going through all of the motions of making Porcupine Meatballs but didn't want to waste the hamburger I took out.  So I came up with this lil guy:

I made this in individual ramekins.  Filled with meat, baby peas, baby carrots and swimming in a mushroom soup base seasoned with thyme and rosemary.  I topped with boxed mashed potatoes, little cheese and some french fried onions.  Very quick and I had everything on hand.  I will be posting this one.

Lastly, Caramel Crumb Bars.  Let me tell you the crumb on this is OUTSTANDING.  Again, I can see infinite possibilities with regards to filling.  A  nice homemade lemon curd, raspberry filling, ohhhh yummy!  The caramel in this was.......odd.  I know not a very grown up adjective but still.  It was colored like peanut butter rather than the see through amber I have come to love.  Good, yet not amazing like the crumb that encased it.  I will post the recipe as well:

With so many failures in a two week time span, shall I hang up my apron? Is it dumb luck? Am I too stressed and not cooking properly?  Am I being too hard on myself?  I think at the very least I will take a break for a day or two :)  

Love you guys,

Special K