Saturday, September 29, 2012

New..Job..

Well, Things have been a bit chaotic lately. This post will be more informative and just a bit of a vent than fun.  I had a job opportunity that I was looking into just over a year ago, in fact I was so excited as it was a bakery job that I had dreamed about for years.  But suddenly it was gone and I had not heard from anyone and my heart was broken.  I had basically stopped much of my baking and often forced myself just to do whatever showed up on this blog. 
In June my fiance and I took a huge risk and I saved everything I could, flew out to Indiana and drove back to California with him for what I had hoped would be the start of our lives together.  He set out looking for work and I just went back to my job.  I had a decent job, part time manager for a retail store which worked well with my full time school attendance for my Bachelor's Degree.  He was here about a month and things crashed.  His car broke down and no one would talk to him about work just nothing.  It was very hard to take everything on with my minimal job.  His car breaking down was the worst. On the day we found out just what was wrong with his car ( the motor.. the absolutely worst thing that could be wrong) I got a call from the bakery offering me a job. I simply cried.  How could I even consider it, I can't afford a transition now and what if it was flakey and so forth.  I agreed to go down and talk.
The job seemed like a good thing, with much possibilities.  If anything it was my chance to see just how much I loved baking.  It is very unstructured and for the most part frustrating and miserable. Since taking it on, Erik had to go back to Indiana after we took out loans to get his car fixed. I find myself more broke and struggling ever in my life and less happier than I had ever thought.
I am not sure how much I regret the job change or if it will ever get better or if things will get worse.  I am going to try to post some of my work there, it is kind of seasonal but they want to make it year around.  I work at Apple Dumplin Restaurant and Bakery in Oak Glenn, hopefully I will get the pies down and maybe feel pride in my abilities instead of dread and misery. 
The first successful thing I have been able to incorporate is this Rustic Apple Tart, I am quite proud at how well it came out and how pretty it is.  I hope I can be happy a little at some point, it will be over a year before I get to see Erik again.  Lets hope things figure themselves out cause I am tired of trying to figure them out.

Cori's Blanket

I wanted to make my future step-daughter a blanket.  I had found this adorable skull snuggle flannel several months ago and after meeting her in June I felt it would be perfect for her! She is an adorable 12 year old, a bit of a tomboy and so much like her Daddy.  She likes the neon colors so I set out to use the skulls as the base print and just accent with neons and black! I have only made a couple of these so far and as much of a pain in the tush they are I am very proud when they are done.  The cutting was much easier than the last few times the laying out of the blanket was more of a pain just because well I detest that much bending haha..
I was in the process of changing jobs and had a few days off before having to say good bye to my fiance(long story that has much heart ache that I simply can't go into anymore lol) so I was determined to get this little project done.  On the upside after so many days I pulled off getting what will likely be my one and only Christmas present this year! At least I know she will have it and I think it is pretty damned cute!
I sure hope she likes it and will keep it for a long time, I am even thinking of taking it down and having her name embroidered on it. 

Shepherds Pie


I had been itching to try and make a shepherd’s pie.  After looking at many recipes I thought to myself  "I can do this"! It is fantastic, such a wonderful flavor!  The beef broth and tomato paste adds a great depth. I will definitely do a full veggie version but my Mom is not big on a variety of vegetables so we did just the corn and mushrooms. It tasted even better reheated.



Shepherds Pie
2 pounds Organic ground beef 80/20
2 8oz containers sliced mushrooms
1 16oz bag frozen corn
2 packets of dry Brown Gravy Mix
1 medium onion
Olive Oil
2 cans beef Broth
2 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
Shredded cheese for sprinkling
Your Favorite Mashed potatoes
Preheat oven to 375
Meat filling…
Cook ground beef, mushrooms and onions until cooked thoroughly, drain.
Place drained beef mixture back in skillet and add 1 can of beef broth. Cook until broth has almost cooked out.
Add tomato paste to meat
In a medium sauce pan, prepare the brown gravy according to package directions,
however, use broth for half the liquid called for( 1 cup water, 1 cup broth)
Pour gravy into meat mixture. And cook all together until you get a nice thick gravy. Stir in frozen corn and heat through until corn is thawed and warmed.
In a 2 quart baking dish, add meat and vegetable layer as bottom layer and then add the mashed potatoes. Top with Shredded cheese .Cook at 375 for about 20 minutes or until cheese in nice and bubbly
I took this moment to do an adorable jar version of shepherd’s pie, too cute to resist and fun to eat! 

  I love this creation, it is so very good! I will make it again and I will play with variations!

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Grilled Pork Loin..



I am quite proud of my ability to cook, bake and grill but I am far from awesome.  I do love pork loin but I had not yet mastered it yet.  I was flipping through my Weber’s Real Grilling cookbook and came across Lightly Cured Pork Loin and decided I should try it!
It was so amazing, seriously!! I made the most juicy and flavorful pork loin ever.  It was even moist cold the next day when I made a sandwich out of it (And I hate sandwiches.. well not hate but they are far from my love list!).  Mom absolutely loved it and said she had never had pork so wonderful and juicy.  I am extremely proud of how well it came out and can’t wait to grill another pork loin!
I even got to use my Cinnamon Vanilla Orange Marmalade that I canned last year!


Lightly Cured Pork Loin with Orange-Mustard Glaze:
Salt Cure:
3 tbsp kosher salt
2 tsp prepared chili powder
1 tsp granulated garlic
1 tsp ground black pepper

1 boneless pork loin roast, about 2 ½ pounds, trimmed of excess fat

Glaze:

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp orange marmalade
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1/8 tsp ground paper
 
1.       To make the salt cure: In a small bowl, mix the salt cure ingredients and rub it all over the roast.  Cover and refrigerate for 45 min to an hour.
2.       To make the Glaze, in a small sauce pan, stir the glaze ingredients.  Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and cook until the marmalade melts.
3.       Rinse the roast under cold water, washing away all the salt and spices, and pat dry with paper towels.  Allow to stand at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before grilling.  Brush the glaze all over the roast.  Grill over Direct Medium heat until evenly caramelized on all sides, barely pink in the center, and to an internal temperature of 155, 40-45 minutes, turning every 5 – 10 minutes.  Remove from the grill and let rest for 5 minutes before cutting.

Serve warm.  I sliced it nice and then and it was amazing!! 
 I am still amazed at how well it came out and I will definitely be making this and more grilled pork loin again!

Chili and Cornbread in a Jar!



Chili and Cornbread Jars!
I had been intrigued since seeing pies in a jar and all the other things people were coming up with to use canning jars for.  I love to can my own jam and marmalade so of course I have jars around and they need to be used!  During a round on Pinterest ( A horrible addiction that needs to be broken!) I saw chili and cornbread baked in the jar.  The next week I found myself making chili for my mom and my chance had arrived!!
I will definitely do these again and can’t wait to do more things in jars!
Chicken Corn Chili… The original recipe comes from Food Network magazine Oct. 2011.  I tweaked it though!

For the Chicken:
I used 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts this time and poached it in a large pot of water with salt, spicy pepper and a generous shaking of dried cilantro. If I had not been lazy and entire quartered onion would have gone in as well. Once the chicken is cooked through just dice it up and continue on with the recipe.
For the Chili:
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 Serrano chili, minced (I used a whole can of chopped jalapenos undrained)
1 (4oz) can chopped green chilies (I did not drain my can)
A generous shake of cumin (recipe calls for 1 tsp but I just started shaking until I was happy lol)
3 cans of low-sodium chicken broth
4 15 oz cans white beans or pinto beans (2 undrained, 2 drained and rinsed)
2 cups frozen corn (recipe said thawed I just threw it in frozen and it was fine)
1 8 oz bar of pepper jack cheese, grated

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add the onion and cook, stirring, until slightly soft, about 3 minutes.  Add the garlic, chopped Serrano chili, green chilies and cumin and cook, stirring, until the cumin is toasted about 2 minutes.  Stir in the chicken broth, chicken and beans (including the undrained liquid).  Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to medium low and simmer.  Stirring occasionally until thickened, about 15 minutes.
Stir in the cheese and corn.  Cook about 15 minutes until creamy and hot.

Fill jar size of choice halve full, I did pint jars because well that is a nice serving for me! I then just put my jar away until the next day; the chili was made for my Mom’s chili potluck at work.

The next day I came home and set the oven as directed on my cheap cornbread box, because well I was testing the idea and honestly was too tired from work to make my own cornbread, Jiffy it is! Once oven was set I put about 2 good heaping spoons of batter in my cold jar of chili and put it in the oven on a try.  I baked it for about 25min until golden and chili was bubbling in the jar. 

It was so cute!! The jar was awesome, from the fridge to the oven.   Remember they are canning jars and are meant to take the heat! I am up for doing so much with Jars now; I just kind of can’t help myself!

On a recent trip to the mountains I did banana pudding in a jar, my first use of the jars for something other than canning. So handy for picnics!!

Monday, September 3, 2012

Chocolate Zucchini Bread



When I was looking at my big bowl of shredded zucchini I was trying to make a variety.  I looked for various possibilities and one of the websites I like to browse often is Allrecipes.com, I quite love the site and there are many great recipes on the site and it was there I found this one!  The only changes I made were to use hazelnuts (it was the only nut I had on hand so every batch that called for nuts got hazelnuts lol) and well if I make anything chocolate I believe that chocolate chips should be in there so I made sure to add a good hefty handful and a half of semisweet chocolate chips to the batter. It definitely hit the spot for a good chocolate craving! My mom who doesn’t really like chocolate loved it! Which is my fave of the 3.. heck I really am not sure, they were all sooo good!! 

3 Eggs
2 cups white sugar
1 cup vegetable oil
2 (1 ounce) squares unsweetened chocolate, melted
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup chopped almonds
2 cups grated zucchini


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease two 9 x 5 inch loaf pans well. Again, here I used mini loaf pans. I got the 4 pampered chef pans and then another 2 foil pans for 6 total of this recipe; which was awesome because we enjoyed eating the first one while still warm!!
  2. Sift together flour, salt, cinnamon, baking powder, and soda.
  3. In a large bowl, beat eggs until lemon colored; beat in sugar and oil. Stir in vanilla, zucchini, and cooled chocolate. Mix dry ingredients into zucchini mixture. Stir in the chopped almonds and added chocolate chips if you want them. Pour batter into prepared pans.
  4. Bake for 60 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in pans 15 to 20 minutes, then flip onto racks to finish cooling. 


 Another great recipe I will definitely look forward to using again!