Hye Thyme Cafe: March 2013

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Friday, March 29, 2013

Finish the Sentence Friday ...

If I could hang out with any celebrity, it would be ...

When I read that, the first person who popped into my mind was Antonio Banderas, since he has been my celebrity "crush" since I first saw him back in The Mambo Kings and Philadelphia.  Seriously, who could resist him in Desperado or Once Upon a Time in Mexico?!?  Smokin' hot!!  I still get chills just hearing his voice as the bee in the Nasonex commercials!  I can't stomach his wife though - Melanie Griffith.  What do these guys see in her?  First Don Johnson, now my beloved Antonio? She must have talents not seen on the big screen, cuz I just don't get it! Since I couldn't be in his presence without wanting to thrash him soundly for marrying her, he would not actually be my first choice to hang out with.

The next person who came to mind was Audrey Hepburn.  She was certainly beautiful, and I would give anything to be able to wear some of the fashions she could just for one day.  What makes me curious about her is that she seems all prim and proper on the outside but with a goofy playful inside.  I think she would have been fun to hang out with.  Since Audrey actually passed away back in 93, she probably wouldn't be the right pick to hang out with, so let's see, who's next???

That's when Robin Williams came to mind.  I was thinking it would be fascinating to spend some time with someone whose brain actually runs in more directions than mine when I'm trying to fall asleep.  But then I recalled a radio program I heard recently where someone had mentioned running into him one morning while stretching to go jogging. They nodded hello to one another, then the jogger realized who Williams was, and when Williams saw that realization dawn, his eyes "went dead," as though he dreaded the prospect of being recognized.  I'm guessing he likes his privacy and wouldn't want to hang out with me, so that leads me to ...

Anthony Michael Hall.  Yup, everyone's favorite 80s geek a la The Breakfast Club.  Why him?  Well, back in the early 90s, while I was living on Cape Cod, I sort of worked the door one night a week at a local nightclub.  He came to the club one night, and I ended up going to IHOP with him and a few friends after closing.  Had I not known he would be at the club that night, I would not have even recognized him at the time.  He seemed to be quite an interesting [translation = strange] character.  We somehow ended up discussing the artist Salvador Dali, and he doodled a drawing on a napkin for me.  I'm pretty sure I still have that somewhere.  Anyhow, later in 2002, I saw him in his series, The Dead Zone, and was shocked. He had certainly grown up [sobered up perhaps??], bulked up, and turned his career around.  He hardly seemed the same person. Soooooo, that's why I would be interested in hanging out with him ... again ... to see what he is like now as compared with that evening at the IHOP.  

How about you?  What celebrity would you want to hang out with, and why?  Feel free to share in the comments below, on Facebook or Twitter using hashtag #FTSF, or if you're a blogger, link up with one of the host blogs:

If you want to plan ahead to jump in next week, that sentence will be:  

"A typical day in my life looks like ..."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Kale-Artichoke Lasagna Rolls

Kale-Artichoke Lasagna Rolls : Hye Thyme Cafe

One of my cousins got me hooked on her Spinach Lasagna a million years ago, then my sister introduced me to her Spinach Lasagna Rolls, and I loved those too - they are similar recipes, so as long as I was around when one of them was being made, I was a happy camper. Given my love of kale since first trying it a few years ago, I decided to switch things up and make a kale version. Because kale and artichokes go so well together, and I happen to have enough cans of artichokes on hand to survive the zombie apocalypse, I threw in some artichokes too.

This would have made 10-12 rolls, but since I was "playing," I made 5 rolls, then used the remaining noodles and filling to make a sort of small lasagna to freeze for later use. I layered noodles across a small pan so that they were hanging over one side, then repeated from the other side, spread the filling in them middle, then folded the noodles over the top.

12 lasagna noodles                        2 ½ c milk
                                                        2 T cornstarch
1 bunch kale                                    ¾ c grated Parmesan
1 can artichoke hearts
1 lg sweet onion                              1 roma tomato
2 cloves garlic                                 3 oz pancetta
salt                                                  fresh parsley
crushed red pepper flakes

15 oz ricotta
1 lg egg
3 oz cream cheese
black pepper

Boil your lasagna noodles in lightly salted water to al dente, then rinse and drape them over the edges of the pot or a collander, etc. so they aren't stuck together by the time you're ready for them. You could also spread them out on a dish towel. If they do get stuck together, not a big deal, just run them under water until they separate again - don't yank on them or they might break.

One bunch kale, stems removed.

Wash the kale and cut off the thick stems, chopping the leaves into pieces.

Also chop the onion, garlic, and artichoke hearts. Since you're on a roll with the chopping, you might as well keep going and chop some parsley and tomato if you're going to use them later for garnish.

Onions and garlic sauteed with a little salt and cracked red pepper.

In about a tablespoon of canola or olive oil, saute the garlic and onion until the onion starts to soften, then season with salt and some crushed red pepper flakes.

Add the kale in batches.Add the chopped artichokes, then start adding in the kale, a little at a time. It will cook down quickly, but will look like a huge pile at first. If you find the mixture to be dry or starting to stick to your pan, you can add a splash of chicken broth, water, even white wine - there should be enough moisture from the onions and clinging to the kale from when you washed it.

Once you manage to get all of the kale in the pan, turn the heat to low and pop a top on it to let it finish cooking down while you make your sauce and binder for your filling.

Lower heat, cover, and let kale wilt down.

Combine ricotta, cream cheese, and egg, and season with pepper.In a large bowl, lightly beat the one egg and add to it the 15 oz of ricotta, 3T of cream cheese, and season with black pepper. I avoided additional salt here because, the veggies were already salted, and the Parmesan will add salt as well.

Set that aside for the moment and check on your kale. If it has wilted down nicely, you can remove it from the heat. Otherwise, let that keep going while you make your sauce ...

Whisk together milk and starch to boil and thicken, then add parm.Whisk together the milk and cornstarch, bringing it up to a slow boil. Be careful to keep whisking so it doesn't scorch on the bottom. Let it lightly bubble for about a minute to thicken, then whisk in the Parmesan until smooth. Remove from heat.

Slowly add about a half cup of the cheese sauce to the ricotta mixture - you want to add it slowly so it doesn't cook the egg. Once that is incorporated, go ahead and stir in the kale mixture as well.

Add some sauce and the kale to the ricotta mixture.

Spray a casserole dish with cooking spray (or lightly butter), and preheat oven to 350.

Lay the lasagna noodles on your work surface in front of you, spread with the kale/cheese mixture and roll into a pinwheel, placing seam-side down in the prepared pan.

Spread kale mixture on noodles and roll into pinwheels.

When you have all of your noodles rolled, cover each with some of the sauce and bake, uncovered, for 20-30" until hot and bubbly. (I reserved additional sauce to spoon over the top later. That's probably fine if you don't plan on eating them all, but unnecessary if you have a large group and expect most of it to get eaten - you can just pour it all over the top before baking. This way, I can re-heat the additional sauce when I need it.)

Coat with sauce and bake until bubbly.
Leftovers formed into a small lasagna.

To serve, plate with a sprinkling of parsley and/or diced tomato and/or crispy pancetta. Had I thought about it beforehand, I might have cooked the pancetta in the big pan and used the grease from that to cook the onions and garlic. Oh well.

By the way, as you can see, I made a very simple side salad of some iceberg lettuce with tomato and cheese - the cheese is REALLY good. I never noticed it before, but it was a tomato/basil cheddar. Very nice!

Garnished with crispy pancetta, parsley, and tomato.

Served with a baguette and simple side salad.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Faux Timpano di Maccheroni: A Marx Foods Challenge

If my sanity was ever in question, I'm pretty sure this one fully establishes that I'm a few fries short of a Happy Meal! Why do I do this to myself? I just can't resist a challenge ... well, at least a kitchen challenge. I volunteered for yet another Marx Foods recipe challenge, and this time around, the theme was Dinner for Dessert. Each participant was sent a sample of cocoa-flavored penne pasta and had to come up with a dessert that resembles an actual meal, while making sure the pasta plays "a major role in the finished dish."  

What on earth was I going to do with brown pasta? That's when my Pinterest switch flipped. I remembered having pinned a recipe a while back for a Timpano, never having seen such a thing before. If this is also new to you, it is a dome, sometimes made out of a bread or pizza dough, sometimes out of lasagna noodles or even phyllo dough. Inside this dome is typically found a layer of penne dressed in a red sauce/gravy, a layer of meatballs and/or sausage, etc., cheese, another layer of penne dressed in a bechamel sauce, and some halved hard-boiled eggs.

If you were to run a Google search, this is what you would likely see ...

Try as I did, I couldn't get my brain to move on to anything else, so I went with it. We'll suspend belief when it comes to the pasta and pretend it's a whole wheat, beet, or squid ink pasta to account for its dark color. 

I'm not bothering with an actual recipe because: a) I think it's pretty self explanatory by the description below; and b) I don't think anyone reading this will be crazy enough to make it themselves.  ;)

Because some of the versions I looked up appeared to have breadcrumbs on the outside, I was first thinking about using a sugar cookie dough for the shell, first spraying the bowl and lining it with crushed almonds for the breadcrumbs. Because I don't have a glass bowl the right size to have been able to see what was going on while it was baking, I figured it would be safer to switch to a blondie batter. I didn't want the cookie to be too brittle in the end.  

I pressed the dough into the bowl and attempted to bake it, only to take a peek in the oven and realize it had all slid to the bottom of the bowl. Next I tried a cream cheese pastry dough, thinking that was stiffer and would hold up better. Not so much! No matter what I tried, I couldn't get it to work. I didn't consider that ahead of time - trying to bake a bowl shape "inside" the bowl so it could be filled while not having a bowl to nest inside of it to keep the shape. I tried puff pastry, but that was actually the worst. I finally gave up and used a [flushes red with embarrassment] store-bought pie crust. I wrapped the dough over the rim of the bowl to hold it up, then shaved it back once baked.

I boiled the pasta in lightly salted water and tossed it in a bit of olive oil when it came out, per the package instructions, so it wouldn't stick together before I could get to it. And yes, it tastes exactly as the name suggests. I'll be curious to try it in a savory application sometime.

I baked one round layer of a red velvet cake, using the rest of the batter for cupcakes. To the cake batter, I added a touch of brown food gel coloring for more of a cooked meatball color. I sliced off the edges and rolled cubes from the center of the cake into meatballs.

Hard Boiled Egg Whites:
Because I am currently without a stand mixer, I was not going to attempt homemade marshmallow for this, so I melted down some store-bought marshmallows with a little butter. I lucked out and found some plastic Easter eggs at the grocery store that open lengthwise, so I sprayed the halves with PAM Baking and dusted them with a little cornstarch, filling them with the marshmallow mixture.

Hard Boiled Egg Yolks:
For the yolks, I baked one round layer of a lemon cake, adding a few drops of a lemon emulsion for an extra burst of flavor and some food coloring gel to deepen the color. Again, I used to rest of the batter for cupcakes and sliced the edges off the cake, rolling cubes into "yolks." I sliced them in half so that when I filled the egg shells with the marshmallow, I could press a half into each.

Whipped and thinned some Philadelphia White Chocolate Indulgence with a little cream.

Ragu/Red Sauce:
Cooked down some frozen strawberries with a bit of sugar and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, then mashed them.

Layer everything inside the baked shell, pop the top [soon to be bottom] on, invert onto a platter and cross your fingers that the shell is a) baked; and b) lets go of the bowl!! This would have been a heck of a lot easier if I could have filled it and then baked it, but I was afraid my "eggs" would melt.

Faux Bechamel
Faux Bechamel
Faux Ragu / Red Sauce
Faux Ragu/Red Sauce
Pie crust shell
Pie Crust Shell
Faux hard boiled eggs
Faux Hard-boiled Eggs

Boiled cocoa-flavored penne
Penne Layer
Bechamel layer
Bechamel Layer

Hard boiled egg layer
Upside-down egg layer
Ragu/Red Sauce Layer
Ragu/Red Sauce Layer

Inverted faux timpano
Yay!  It let go of the bowl!

Sliced faux timpano

If you'll excuse me, I have to answer the door. I see two gentlemen in nice while uniforms. They're coming to take me away ...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Finish The Sentence Friday ...

Judging by the other posts I've read so far, everyone seems to be stumped by this week's inspiration:

One time when I was bored out of my mind, I ...

When I read this last week, I started thinking about it, and for the life of me, I couldn't come up with anything either.  I'm apparently not easily bored.  I mean seriously, if worse comes to worst, there has always been TV, and I usually have a book stashed somewhere nearby.  That said, as I was reading the other posts people had come up with ... or not come up with as the case may be ... one thing did come to mind.

After collecting approximately six bazillion recipes over time, none of which I had actually gotten around to attempting, I decided that it was time to organize them somehow.  Up until the most recent version, one of my favorite computer resources has always been the office version of Outlook, because it is so versatile.  I set up a custom recipe card form that would print on my preferred 5x8" index cards, photo included.  By doing that, I was able to categorize all of my recipes by multiple sort options.  Say I had an appetizer that had chicken in it, I might have tagged it with "appetizers," "chicken," and "holiday."  I could also set up any kind of view I wanted, which made it easy to print out lists and menus.  That worked great - for a while!

There came a point where I switched computers and upgraded my software.  It wasn't until then that I realized you cannot export custom forms from Outlook.  Or at least you couldn't.  I haven't dared try it again to find out if that has since changed.  No matter what I did, it wouldn't work.  I was able to export some of the fields, but not all.  I was crushed to say the least.  Soooo ...

This other time when I was bored out of my mind, I ...

Re-typed every one of those six bazilion recipes into Word and cross-referenced them to an Index.  Now, when I want to retrieve one of those recipes, I simply pull up the Index, Ctrl+Click the recipe, and it opens directly to it.  Although I have them sorted into only a handful of documents by type (too many for one ginormous document), I can add them to the Index under any category I want.  The bookmark still opens to the correct document/place.  I can't sort the recipes or make lists like I could in Outlook, but at least they are more manageable this way.

It actually turned out to be [kind of] a good thing in the long run, since when each of my nephews, and one of their girlfriends, went to college, they asked me to make a cookbook for them.  It was a no-brainer doing that from Word.

Now, of course, the problem is that I have a bazillion new recipes stored all over the place.  Pinterest for one.  I love Pinterest.  You should check it out if you're not familiar with it.  It's like a virtual tackboard where you can pin all sorts of things.  Then there are the recipes from other blogs that I follow - those are categorized in my Google Reader feed which, sadly, is going away in July, so if you follow blogs there, it's time to find a new resource!  Then there are the recipes I come across in magazines. In an effort to cut down on paper/clutter, if I come across a recipe that interests me, I'll first Google it to see if I can find it online.  Even if the magazine doesn't post their recipes, or you need to be a member, often times you will find that someone else has posted it.  If I do find it online, I'll e-mail it to myself and store it by category.  If I can't, and it's not a magazine I plan to keep, I'll tear out the page and scan it.

So, how do YOU store your recipes???

And, if you've got a "bored" story to share, feel free to leave it in the comments below, or if you're a blogger, link up with one of the host blogs:

If you want to plan ahead to jump in next week, that sentence will be:  

"If I could hang out with any celebrity, it would be ..."

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Baileys Caramel Chocolate Cake

Decorated with cream cheese frosting and toasted almonds.

This was my contribution to the family St. Patrick's Day dinner this year. My sister was making a boiled dinner and Irish Soda Bread, so I offered to make dessert. I was first contemplating a "green" option, but I didn't have the tools necessary for what I had in mind, so decided to go with Baileys instead.

2 c cake flour
2 c castor sugar
1/2 c unsweetened cocoa powder
1 t baking powder
1 t baking soda
1/4 t salt
10 oz plain Greek yogurt
1/2 c canola oil
3 T Baileys Caramel
2 eggs

8 oz cream cheese, softened
8 oz butter, softened
4 c powdered sugar
2 T Baileys Caramel

Sliced almonds, toasted and crushed

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt until the cocoa is evenly distributed.
  • Add the yogurt, canola oil, and Baileys, and beat well.
  • Add the eggs, beating well until nicely incorporated.
  • Spray 2 cake rounds with PAM Baking and fill evenly with batter.
  • Bake +/- 35" until toothpick tests done.  *
  • Cream together the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy.
  • Add in the powdered sugar, a little at a time, until well incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary.
  • Add the Baileys and beat until well distributed.
  • Toast the almonds in a dry pan, immediately removing from heat when done.
  • When cool to the touch, crush some of the almonds with your hand.
  • Ice the cooled cake with the cream cheese icing, then press the crushed toasted almonds around the outside.
* Although we all loved the flavor of this cake, I have to admit that it turned out a bit on the dry side. When looking at various cake recipes before starting this one, they all said to bake the cake at 350 for 40-45". I had this in the oven in one room, while doing some work in another. At about 30", it "smelled done" to me. I glanced at the clock and saw there were at least 10" to go still, so I ignored my inner voice and kept working. About 5" later, I couldn't help it - my nose was telling me it was done, even thought it shouldn't have been. Sure enough!

You can see in this picture how it has pulled away from the sides of the pan. When you just start to see that happening, that's another good indication that something is ready.

Pulling away from the sides of the pan is an indication of being fully baked.

Always trust your nose when baking! I'll definitely be checking this earlier next time, but I might also add a touch more yogurt ... just in case.  ;')

Slice of Baileys Caramel Chocolate Cake

Friday, March 15, 2013

Zucchini Boule - Fabio's Kitchen Academy Challenge #4

Zucchini yeast bread with pine nuts, parsley, and tomato sauce.

To be quite honest, I was both shocked and amazed that this bread turned out the way that it did! I was afraid it would be a gummy mess from all the moisture involved, but once I got the idea in my head, I just had to run with it. Who else would bake a yeast bread with tomato sauce??

It all started when I read that my all-time favorite Top Chef contestant, Fabio Viviani, promotes periodic recipe challenges via one of his Pinterest boards. I had meant to jump in before now, but missed the first three. He posts a list of "must use" ingredients, then participants decide whatever else they want to incorporate to come up with an entry, which is in turn pinned to the challenge Pinterest board for voting purposes, re-pinning, etc.

In this, Challenge #4, the "must use" ingredients are:

  1. Zucchini
  2. Pine Nuts
  3. Parsley
  4. Tomato Sauce

Of course, the first things that came to mind were some sort of pasta dish, stuffed zucchini, zucchini cakes, etc., but I wanted to do something "different." That's when the bread came to mind.

1/2 c pine nuts
2 T butter
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, chopped
3/4 c chopped fresh parsley
1/2 t salt
1/2 t black pepper
1/2 t crushed red pepper flakes
8 oz tomato sauce
1/2 c Greek-style plain yogurt *
1 T sugar
1 T water
2 c shredded zucchini, blotted dry
1 packet yeast
1/2 c grated Parmesan
1 t salt
3 1/2 c flour

  1. In a large non-stick pan, lightly toast the pine nuts over medium heat, immediately removing from the pan to prevent burning; set aside.
  2. Return the pan to the stove, adding the 2T of butter and saute the garlic and onion until they just start to soften.
  3. Add the parsley, salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes, followed by the tomato sauce.
  4. In a small bowl, stir together the yogurt, water, and sugar; set aside.
  5. Stirring frequently, let the tomato mixture simmer to concentrate and reduce the tomato sauce by about half.
  6. Stir the shredded zucchini and toasted pine nuts into the tomato mixture and remove from heat.
  7. Add the yeast to the bowl of your stand mixer or food processor with dough blade attached.
  8. Now that the water and yogurt have had a chance to work on dissolving the sugar, pop it in the microwave for about 20 seconds to warm the mixture - you do NOT want it to be HOT.
  9. Pour the warm yogurt mixture over the yeast and let stand for about 5" to bloom the yeast.  
  10. While the yeast is blooming, whisk together your Parmesan, salt, and flour.
  11. When the yeast has bloomed and the tomato mixture has cooled somewhat, alternate adding flour/zucchini to your mixer, scraping down the sides between additions.
  12. Once everything has been added, let the mixer/processor run for several minutes until the dough pulls away from the sides and forms a nice shiny ball.
  13. Turn the dough out into a greased/sprayed bowl, cover and let rise for 45" to an hour - the oven is always a good place for that, away from any drafts.
  14. Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured surface, kneading 5-6 times, then shape into a loaf. I had a pizza stone in the oven that I hand't tried out yet, so I sprinkled that with some cornmeal to prevent sticking and baked the loaf on the stone. Otherwise, I would have either sprayed a cake round/pie plate, or just shaped it on a parchment-lined tray - whatever you are most comfortable with.
  15. Cover and let rest while you preheat your oven to 375.
  16. Bake for +/- 40" and let cool completely before slicing.

* If you don't have access to or want to spend the $ on Greek-style yogurt, any plain yogurt will do. Just strain it first through a piece of cheesecloth, a paper towel, or even a coffee filter, to remove the excess liquid.

Truth be told, this could probably have used another 3" or so in the oven, but I was going by smell and by the color of the exterior. By the way, this does smell awesome while baking. Flavor-wise, it was reminiscent of something with sun-dried tomato and had a nice little kick of heat from the crushed red pepper flakes. I love the color, and I'm giving myself a pat on the back for this one working out!  ;)

Thanks to Fabio for the inspiration!!  I love playing around with this type of challenge.

2 c shredded zucchini
Blot excess moisture from shredded zucchini.

Toast pine nuts and immediately remove from heat.
Saute garlic and onion in 2T butter.

Add salt, pepper, and crushed red pepper flakes.
Add parsley to garlic and onion mixture.

Add 8 oz tomato sauce and simmer to reduce by half.
Reduced tomato mixture.

Fold in shredded zucchini and toasted pine nuts.
Stir together the yogurt, water, and sugar.

After rising for 45".Turn dough in oiled bowl, cover and let rise.

Bake at 375 for about 40-45".Punch down the dough, knead 5 or 6 times and form into a loaf.

Allow to cool completely before slicing.

To Follow Fabio on Pinterest
To Follow Hye Thyme Cafe on Pinterest
Fabio's Kitchen Academy Challenge #4 Board on Pinterest

Be sure to stop by and check out all the entries and "Like" your favorite(s) - hopefully including this one!

1st Prize = A call from Fabio, a copy of his new cookbook, and a set of Bialetti Cookware.
2nd/3rd Prize = A call from Fabio and a copy of his new cookbook.

If you want to participate, the challenge is open until March 19, 2013.

Finish This Sentence Friday

For this week's installment of Follow This Sentence Friday, we were presented with the following:

"I did something stupid once ..."

I'm fairly certain it would be safe to say that I do something at least relatively stupid on a weekly basis, but when pondering this sentence, two things came immediately to mind.

1.  When I was a baby, or at least younger than 4 because that's how old I was when we moved out of that house ... I managed to pirate my Mom's keys from out of her purse.  Back in the day, we didn't have all the child safety gadgets - you know, things like seatbelts, bike helmets, cabinet latches, outlet covers...

Yup, I may be the reason outlet covers were first invented!  At my height, looking at those two little slots and then at the keys, it seemed perfectly logical to stick the keys right in there.

I was thrown across the room, the electricity shorted out, the knees of my onesie were burnt out, and the keys fused to the floor.  As the story goes, a certain someone was more concerned about the TV (Bozo was on at the time) going out than her baby sister learning to fly.  By the way, that line across my forehead may or may not have been from the time I thought it would be fun to do somersaults down that staircase.

You would think I would have learned from that experience, but when I was 11 or 12, I was sitting up on the top of an open-up couch - not the kind that folds open from under the cushions, but the kind that opens more like a futon.  Needless to say, it fell out from under me and opened, snapping a lamp cord out of an outlet and leaving one prong still in the wall.  What did this genius do?  Grab the prong to pull it out.  NOT a good idea!

That apparently did the trick, because one afternoon at my college dorm, I walked into a friend's room to see her vibrating while hanging onto a desk lamp and her roommate attached to her, also vibrating.  The girl I was with grabbed the roommate and was added to the current.  They couldn't let go.  I couldn't get to the plug because they were in the way, so I kicked (sorry Kelley) the first one away from the lamp.  Thankfully we walked in when we did and I had learned my lesson and didn't also try to pull them away!  That was very freaky to see, and I actually thought they were kidding around for a fraction of a second.

2.  One summer when it was time to leave the beach house and head for home, I asked my parents if I could stay because I still had some time left before school started up.  They let me, but I didn't have a car at that point.  I went to go to work one day and couldn't find my keys anywhere!  Since I was the only one there, I left the downstairs door unlocked and crossed my fingers that nobody would break in.  This went on for a few days.  I started checking in crazy places like the freezer, washing machine, etc., but still no keys!  On the third or fourth day, it occurred to me that because I had been coming and going through the downstairs back door, I hadn't been checking the mail.  I opened the front door to get to the mailbox and tah dah ... my keys were dangling from the doorknob, right where I had left them when schlepping in several bags of groceries a few days back!!!  I'm very lucky that no burglars took me up on that open invitation.  Maybe one stopped by and thought it was a trap LOL.

If you want to either play along or read some other Follow This Sentence Friday posts, check out any of the host pages, and if you decide to share any to Facebook or Twitter, etc., be sure to use the hashtag #FTSF.

Stephanie - Mommy, For Real

Next week's sentence is:  "One time when I was bored out of my mind, I ..."

Friday, March 8, 2013

Finish This Sentence Friday ...

For this week's installment of Finish This Sentence Friday (which I keep forgetting about), the sentence we needed to finish was:

I tried to cook ...

Presumably, this was to get everyone to confess to a major kitchen disaster.  I'm usually pretty good at salvaging things, but that sentence immediately brought me back to Christmas of 2010, when "I tried to cook [make] a Strawberry Vacherin for a visiting dinner guest from France."  One of my nephews had a friend who was to be joining us, so I asked if he had a favorite holiday dessert I could make for him to feel at home.  He mentioned the Strawberry Vacherin, which was something new to me, but I'm always up for a challenge.

Now, I've made my fair share of meringue pies, but I had never made meringue cookies or used meringues in any other way.  This was described to me as a molded strawberry mousse slathered in whipped cream, then surrounded by the merinques and topped with strawberries. Sounded easy enough.  WRONG!  

I couldn't for the life of me get the meringues to cooperate.  I made a batch that looked beautiful and piped very nicely onto my trays.  The problem came when I tried to remove them from the trays - wasn't gonna happen!  

I ended up with two large trays of meringue shards!  Almost every one of them broke.  I don't specifically remember doing this, but it appears that I baked the first batch on waxed paper.  I have never baked on waxed paper, so I'll assume I read that in more than one recipe I looked at for reference.

Being determined to have this dessert there for Nick, I went back to the drawing board late on Christmas Eve and whipped up another batch of meringue.  This batch was slightly oozey - not nearly as nice as my first batch.  I recall posting on Facebook asking for advice about whether to try again on the waxed paper, switch to my favorite (parchment), whether the recipe needed to be tweaked, etc.  I was assured by one old high school friend that the absolute best method was to pipe them onto a brown paper grocery bag.  Hmmm?  OK, since she had experience with this and it had never failed her, that's just what I did.  The result?

Yup, more broken ... and not nearly as pretty as the first batch ... meringues.  Sigh! 

In the end, I managed to piece together a half-a$$ed version with whatever meringues I was able to salvage.  There should not be any space between the meringues, but I didn't have enough to go around otherwise.  Nick was happy with my efforts, but I was furious.  I fully intend to do this again and get it right next time!

This year, we were supposed to be having a friend from Germany join us for Christmas.  Lucky for me [and maybe for him], that didn't happen.  ;')

Next week's sentence:  I did something really stupid once, I...

Finish the Sentence Friday

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