Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Baking Bread - Help!

I've decided I would like to venture into the world of bread baking. I've never done it before and, quite frankly, the idea intimidates me. I think I'm nervous because so much precision is required. What if I put too much water in? Or don't knead the dough long enough? Ugh, these are all questions that have kept me out of the game until now.

I have faced intimidation before (it took me weeks to get over the idea of roasting tomatoes), but I can't let it stop me anymore. As I mentioned last week, preparing different meals more regularly has really helped me feel more confident, even when I mess up. It's with this new found confidence that I'll be trying something new, but I would still LOVE your tips, suggestions, recommendations, or warnings. :)

(Photos from Quiet Like Horses. Sobrina makes bread making look like nothing! Check out her recipes here)
Thursday, February 7, 2013

Vanilla Buttercream to the Rescue!

Each week our church family comes together, makes a meal together, and shares a discussion over that meal. Each person signs up for a different course or ingredient so that the burden doesn't fall onto one person. It's possible because we're a small group that meets in a house (also, we're part of a larger church network for anyone who may be feeling freaked out by the idea of a "home church" :). However, the point of this post is not about my church or it's logistics, rather it is about food. 

Since we've begun making a meal together each week, my confidence in the kitchen has grown. We've had food themes that push me outside of my comfort zone; sometimes I fail and sometimes I nail it. Luckily for me, everyone is gracious and loving in my attempts at new dishes.

This confidence has encouraged me to branch out and try all kinds of recipes. I found a fun homemade Ding Dong recipe via Pinterest and wanted to give it a shot. I followed the directions well, but ran into some serious trouble with the whipped cream filling. I just could NOT get it to whip and create "stiff peaks". In fact, I was able to achieve a nice top layer of whipped cream, but hidden beneath was a liquidy bummer.

After a brief emotional breakdown (I blame pregnancy hormones), I resolved to find a solution. This lead me to buttercream frosting. My friend Ali has a super delicious homemade recipe and it was the first thing that came to my mind. Hers is pretty fancy (she is a professional baker, after all), so I Googled, "vanilla buttercream frosting". A simple recipe from Savory Sweet Life came up and I had all of the ingredients in my pantry (bonus!).

The frosting was SUPER easy to make and it was really delicious. I was so satisfied with the way that it turned out, and stoked by the fact that my Ding Dongs were not ruined! I filled my little cocoa cakes with this buttery goodness and proceeded to cover them with chocolate. More than just making a yummy dessert, I'm proud that I was able to overcome adversity in the kitchen. It may sound lame, but I thought I wasn't going to be able to save the cakes when the cream wouldn't whip.

Here are some things I learned from both recipes:

Ding Dongs
  • I feel like there was a funny after taste and I can't tell if it was the pureed dates or if my vanilla extract went bad. 
  • Make sure you have ALL of the ingredients before you begin. I had to go to the store several times because I missed a few things.

Buttercream Frosting
  • Follow the instructions - they are easy and it pays off in the end. 

You can find the full recipes and all photos from the links above. 
Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The News!

Do I look bloated in the picture above? Well, I'm not! I'm pregnant!!!

Rob and I are beyond stoked for our sweet potato-sized lovie, set to arrive in July. I am currently 18 weeks pregnant (about 4 months) and I feel great. Sometimes I still can't believe that it's happening, and sometimes I'm even afraid of what my life is going to be like once the baby is born. Maybe that's a part of the reason you're pregnant for 9 months? To get used to the idea? Who knows!

What has been really amazing for me is to see how quickly my body began changing to prepare for this little life. Almost right away, I noticed subtle changes in how my body carried itself and how I was feeling (mainly exhausted). It really is incredible what our bodies can do.

As my pregnancy progresses, expect some updates on here. I haven't been posting regularly (which is obvious), so I don't want to commit to daily posts. Saying that, I do want some kind of record of my experience to share with my kidlet later on in life.

So, be sure to stop by!

(Photo taken by Daniel Garcia at 14 weeks) 
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