Thursday, February 28, 2013

Pinterest Challenge

Sisters Share It All: Pinterest Challenge

Pinterest is the answer to the just over 100 links I had bookmarked as something to remember for the future, but I never could recall what those things were based on the title of the link alone. The problem was so glaring I'm a bit ashamed I didn't invent and code Pinterest on my own. Pinterest finally provided me with a visual representation of what I wished to recall.

I hear Pinterest is spoken of in two ways. First, "I love Pinterest! So many pretty ideas I never use. Second, "Nothing ever turns out like it does on Pinterest, I don't know why I bother."

My experience with Pinterest doesn't agree with either of those extremes. I start on my own Pinterest boards when I'm looking for a craft, an organization technique, or a menu. I also frequently delete pins that have sat idle or that, despite looking for something to do, I just cannot bring myself to do it. (e.g. A recipe requires half a gallon of oil for frying and for the past year I've been unable to commit myself to that level of clean up. If it hasn't happened in 52 weeks it ain't ever going to happen. Delete.) Visiting the boards frequently and being willing to delete things means that I actually follow through on the ideas and that I let go of the ideas that I'm no longer interested in.

And failure? Yup. It happens. See also the bunny rabbit buns I tried last week. They were more ugly blobs than bunny rabbits. If there are two life lessons that apply to Pinterest they are: one, know your abilities and dictate your plans and expectations accordingly, and two, it is ok to fail.

Ok, I'm stepping off my soapbox for now.

So, the egomaniac behind that rant believes she's pretty good at actually doing the things she collects on Pinterest. The thing is, I never actually wave my little, decoupaged banner of triumph to the world. I'm terrible at blogging about things. (See also the aforementioned blobs. Not that you wanted to see them.)

For that reason I'm participating in the Pinterest Challenge. I first heard of the challenge through Alli.It's a little challenge where you select 6 Pinterest pins, complete them in the next month before April, and blog about them in one or multiple posts. Yeah, it's that last part that's going to get me.

Here are the pins I've selected:

Um, yes, I am able to count, and, yes, there are more than 6 there. It's just, I already have 3 of those on my grocery shopping list and it feels to be cheating a tinsy bit if they're already planned and practically in the works for March.

  1. Canvas Lined Diaper Box
  2. Animal Cookies
  3. Cloth Pull Baby Toy
  4. Fabric Notes
  5. Painting with Yogurt
  6. Roti Chicken
  7. Table Runner Rolling
  8. Skirt Steak with Chimichurri Sauce

If you want to participate: choose "six" things on Pinterest that you want to try between now and April, create a blog post, and link up by clicking this link.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

January Dinners

Here are some dinner ideas from around the web. I made each of these in the past 3 weeks. This selection is the recipes I can link to which were successful. Successful being defined as worth making again in the future or worth trying again in the future with modifications. Other dinners without internet presence included: spaghetti, ginger chicken with coconut, creamy ranch chicken, sweet & sour meatballs, steak stir fry with vegetables, honey lime enchiladas, and hummus baked chicken.

  • Korean Beef and Rice Bowl - I like this dish because of all its veggies, and it comes together quickly if you purchase the carrots already matchsticked.
  • Cuban Tacos - This was a new dish I tried. I liked it, but they were very dry. I don't know if that was a cooking mistake or just the nature of the dish. I feel like they need some sort of southwest-inspired ranch sauce.
  • Chicken Pot Pie - Little Hands is particularly fond of this dish; the boy loves a good cream sauce. Making one pie alone is too high an effort for a single meal, so I double the recipe and freeze the second pie. I also stick with store-bought crusts on this one to reduce the workload. To this recipe I add more salt and nutmeg to taste, a clove of garlic per pie, and I substitute the black pepper with white pepper.
  • Drunken Noodles - This dish struck my fancy, and my downfall was the rice noodles required 30 minutes of soak time before cooking. I liked the dish, but didn't love it. As with all rice noodles dishes, I found myself hunger again an hour later.
  • Meatball Sandwich - Another dish where I was able to freeze half the yield. I drastically cut down the onion, and I felt that was a good decision. Next time I'd take the red pepper down a bit as well. I love a good, hot dish, but the heat in this one overwhelmed the spiciness of the meatballs.
  • Fajitas - Yum. I like this recipe better than the pack o seasoning I used to use. I omit the fancy sizzling step, and I just warm up the tortillas in the microwave.
  • Beef Stroganoff with Dill This is a recipe that I cut in half. I also use a cheap cut of beef, slice it thin, and then cook it slowly for-ev-er.
  • Disneyland Monte Cristo Sandwich My downfall on these was I don't have a thermometer to gauge oil temperature, and my oil was too cold. The other downfall is that each sandwich half takes up 4-6 minutes to cook. This is not a fast dish.
  • Chicken CarbonaraIn place of the pancetta I used bacon. I also halved the recipe and doubled the bacon. Delicious despite the fact it clogs arteries.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Champagne Cake

When DH was a child, his birthday cake of choice was a Champagne Cake from a particular bakery. This was my second year to try to recreate the cake. The first time I made it, I had no idea what the cake was supposed to be like and, as such, it didn't do so well. Last year I was able to taste the cake courtesy of William's family, but we found that the cake had changed greatly over the decades. So I'm left trying to match a cake to the memories of my husband.

Vintage Cakes: Timeless Recipes for Cupcakes, Flips, Rolls, Layer, Angel, Bundt, Chiffon, and Icebox Cakes for Today's Sweet Tooth by Julie Richardson was just published in 2012. I read about this book on one blog or another that I follow. I was pretty excited to see Champagne Cake listed in the Table of Contents, and pretty excited when Santa (he still exists!) gave me a copy for Christmas.

The only change I made to the recipe was to substitute the provided pudding-whipped-cream frosting recipe with a Swiss meringue buttercream. Last time around, we determined that Swiss meringue buttercream was exactly what we wanted (as opposed to a basic buttercream or quick icing).

The resulting cake was delicious, yet it still isn't quite right. I used 9" pans instead of 8" pans, so I only put in 1 layer of pudding filling and, unfortunately, overbaked the cake. I omitted the traditional, curls of pink-colored chocolate that existed on the cake I'm trying to match; I felt I'd been pretty lucky to make a cake, a pudding filling, and a frosting with a baby and I wasn't going to press my luck. Overall it's a good cake, and it should be a perfect cake in a few more drafts.

Friday, February 1, 2013

A First [Failed] Attempt

Let's not even mention what this was supposed to be. Let's just pretend to be optimistic and call it my first failure on the path toward success.