Sunday, October 31, 2010

S'Mores Bars - by Summer and Lisa

Lisa Says: Bonus recipe this month! Since Summer was out here visiting me in Seattle, and we didn't have loads of stuff going on, we decided that we should bake something together! Summer narrowed down the field to three options, and I got to choose which one it would be. The S'Mores Bars just looked too good to pass up, plus I had all the ingredients on hand which made for a nice bonus.

Baking is so much more fun when you can do it together. :) Making this recipe was almost like making chocolate chip cookie bars with some marshmallows and graham cracker crumbs thrown in for good measure. It was really easy to assemble, and I liked that the topping wasn't one solid mass and instead allowed for the marshmallows to puff thru. We tag teamed on making the batter and putting it all together. The hard part was waiting for it to be ready to eat! After it came out of the oven, it had to cool to room temperature and THEN it went into the fridge for awhile!

Making the batter
Summer working the layers
Lisa tags in and adds more layers

Once it was finally ready for consumption, I thought it was pretty tasty. Although, it was a pretty dense bar and the mass of chocolate chips melded together made for some heavy bites of sugar. I do like it tho, and it has been my lunch dessert for most of the week. I think if I were to make it again, I would go a little lighter on the chocolate chips and maybe add a handful more of marshmallows. I might also consider thinning the bottom layer a bit more to even out the whole cake-y experience.

Summer Says:
I was really excited to go visit Lisa and meet her precious new baby and also spend time with my godson (her older child).  It was also an added bonus that we had the time to bake together. 

Somehow in my head, I was thinking the base of this dessert was more brownie like (i.e. chocolate), but it was really graham cracker.  I agree that I wish the bottom layer was a little bit thinner, but I loved the layer of chocolate chips and marshmallows.  The hardest part was definitely waiting to dig into them.

I was able to take some home with me and since my hubby doesn't like marshmallows or s'mores, I was able to eat them all myself.  They were a little rich, so they lasted me a long while.  I loved being able to bake with Lisa in her kitchen.  My fondest memory though was when her husband had the great idea to put the bars in the garage to cool off quicker.  We moved them back inside and into the fridge while he was off doing something else.  When he went looking for them, he convinced that someone broke into their garage and stole them! :-)

Before going in the oven
The finished product

Elegant Apple Tartlets - by Lisa

Hot diggity these were some tasty little treats! I'm normally not the biggest fan of apple pie, but these were simply delicious! So much so that I helped myself to 3 servings. Thank heaven for the extra calories burned off by nursing! LOL! Anywho, I'm always excited to make use of my specialty kitchen gadgets, and for this one I got to pull out my apple peeler/corer. Incidentally, my cat has an amazing memory and was at my feet begging for the apple ribbon as soon as I pulled the gadget out! But I digress...this tool makes handy work of peeling, coring and slicing the apple, so that step was completed in no time at all! I was also excited to utilize my CSA and ordered Gala apples especially for this recipe.

Once I had the puff pastry rolled out, it was super simple to cut the circles, transfer them to the baking sheet and layer the apple slices on. Next was brushing melted butter and sprinkling cinnamon sugar over these little darlings. The only thing I messed up on was not having any sugar in the raw. I totally forgot that the recipe needed that, so I never picked any up from the store (or swiped packets of 'em from Starbucks for that matter).

Just placed in the oven

Twenty or so minutes later, Hubby and I were busy stuffing them into our mouths. We didn't even need to use forks - they were perfectly sized and just crisp enough to be picked up and ferried to our mouths. I can see how these would pair incredibly well with some vanilla ice cream too. Next time I'll have to do that!

 The final product

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Rustic Plum Galette - by Lisa

Making the plum galette was extra fun because Summer was in Seattle for a visit!! Hooray!! :)
I was a little concerned about making this because I suspected we were nearing the end of in season plums. I wasn't sure if my grocery store was going to have any in stock! Fortunately, I lucked out and got my hands on some, and they were all in good shape too. Ripe, but still firm. 

I decided I would make this the weekend Summer was here so that we could both sample it. I had spent a busy day in the kitchen working on dinner, so I was glad to find this recipe very easy to make!

And can I just say? Frozen puff pastry is my new favorite thing. It is so easy to work with and tastes so yummy! You may not know this, but me and pie crusts generally don't get along so well. I might start using this on days when I just don't feel like fighting against the pie crust gods. Anywho, the most time consuming part of this recipe was slicing up the plums, but that was fairly easy - more so because they weren't too mushy.

Unlike Summer, I'm not so good about reading ahead in recipes which can sometimes lead to problems. Case in point, the recipe called for rolling the dough between two sheets of parchment paper. For rolling out dough I almost always use waxed paper (cuz I'm cheap), so I figured I'd do the same here. Fortunately Summer noticed that the bottom layer of parchment paper does not get discarded and instead goes into the oven with the galette. Can't do that with the waxed paper! So she swapped that out for me while I was working with some of the ingredients.

Since I had to get this in the oven by a certain time, I didn't have the chance to line up the plum slices in neat circles. I kind of wish I did, because it would have made it look so much prettier!

Before going into the oven
And on the flip side

After dinner, we dug into dessert. I think Hubby put it best when he said: "It's a mouthful of win!" :) Yes, we all thoroughly enjoyed this tasty treat! Summer mentioned that it would be neat to try this with a different variety of plum. I might even try it with pluots next year!

Best Friends Baking - Together in Seattle!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Elegant Apple Tartlets - by Summer

We're back!  We decided to start out a little slow and only pick two recipes for the month.  We are changing things up a little bit again.  This time, we are each going to have picks for the month and then we can independently decide which week we are going to bake them.  Flexibility is something that you learn as a parent, and that's how we are going to roll on here too!  After we decided on two picks for this month, Lisa came up with a fabulous idea!  Next week I am flying out to Seattle to meet her latest addition and to spend some time with my godson (her firstborn), so we thought it would be fun to bake a recipe together!  It might be one of us distracting the kids while the other one bakes, but I am sure we will figure it out! 

Anyhow - enough housekeeping - on with the baking!  Both recipes we chose this month use puff pastry.  For some silly reason - I have always been scared of puff pastry.  After making this recipe I have no idea why!  It's so easy to work with and you don't have to do a thing but thaw it!

Funny thing about that thawing it piece.  Beth is a huge advocate of reading the recipe twice before you start baking anything.  She puts this in her book and I have seen her mention it on other places.  Usually I study the recipes a couple of days before attempting them.  This one was no different, but for some reason, my mind completely ignored the word thaw!  During the baby's morning nap, I got everything ready to make these.  I sliced the apples (I used an apple peeler/corer thing because I am terrible at pealing by hand), got the butter melted, oven preheated - I mean everything was ready.  And then I went to the freezer and took out the puff pastry.  Basically I had to turn off the oven and put away some of the stuff until the next naptime rolled around.  You simply can't roll out frozen puff pastry.  It just won't work!  Lesson learned the hard way!

Other than that little issue, I was able to assemble these quickly.  My apple slices weren't as thin as the recipe called for and my apples were slightly large as I was trying to use up what I had on hand (a Golden Delicious and a Cortland).  Fortunately that wasn't an issue at all in the outcome.  The apples baked up soft after 20 minutes and the taste was so amazing!  It's like a little apple pie without all the work of a pie crust!  I can not wait to make these again!