Sunday, November 21, 2010

Beading with friends!

The weekend's second attempt at cooking without a recipe is now in the oven! didn't take any pictures during the assembly; will put up a pic of the final result (it's pumpkin stuffed shells).

The actual subject of this post is a hobby I have done in the past but not in a while: beading! my friend Laura has a HUGE collection of beads (she has been known to buy other people's entire beading collections, including tools). They are very well organized (better than the one cabootle i have mine in!):
Yeah. I love organization!
We Laura and her mother-in-law Shirley helped us make our pick of the following: 2 pairs of earrings, stretchy bracelet, bookmark, wineglass charms, or badge lanyard. Jen made wine charms (unassembled, from her twitter page):
Shirley helps Rhiannon with her bookmark:
Abby's cute earrings have another function:
Working on my badge lanyard (purple, of course!):
The supplies:
Final product:
Happy beaders: Deanna, Laura, Gabbi, Matt, Poonam:
Matt enjoys being the only guy hanging out with a bunch of women. He's the happy Bartender Man!
He makes some tasty drink (that pomegrante martini was stronger than it tasted, as evidenced by the video that I have yet to see...)
Ugh, all that yummy.

There were a few females in the house who did not make anything. Here's one of them.
very curious.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Experimental baking, part 2 (and drinking!)

I desire to make a food that combines the qualities of pumpkin cheesecake and pumpkin bars. plus chocolate. but with less fat and calories than cheesecake. I want something more like a bar than cheesecake. plus, cheesecake is a lot of work. so right now, 4 oz of fat-free cream cheese (leftover from a different recipe) is softening on the counter. I don't think i'm going to bother trying to base it on a recipe, or a combination of recipes. I am flying by the seat of my sweatpants, and drawing on years of experience.
Here's the plan:
Beat cream cheese until smooth.
add pumpkin puree (i roasted a pie pumpkin on wednesday and have over 2 cups. plus a couple of cans in the cupboard, but i don't plan on using it). amount to be determined. probably start with 1 cup, then add more if it seems too thick.
add brown sugar, vanilla extract, and egg (probably beaten egg whites to make it fluffy).
dry ingredients: this is where i'm not sure. pumpkin pie and cheesecake don't use any flour. traditional cakey bars take about 2 cups. i want more of a bar-like consistency. so i'll probably start with 1/2 cup and work up. I also like to add oat or wheat bran for texture and fiber. more like a muffin then. i like that idea...
then, spices! pumpkin pie spice, obviously. i finally broke down and bought pumpkin pie spice not too long ago. it is just a combination of 4 things, but i got tired of measuring them out separately (cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice). i like lots of spice. also throw in some baking powder and salt.
I think I will bake it in muffin tins. I am toying with the idea of a crust, which is essential for most pies and cheesecakes, but not necessary for bars. i've got some graham crackers and Fiber One cereal, i might mix some up with a bit of sugar and butter and try that in a few cups.
once it bakes, i am melting CHOCOLATE on top!! and how does this sound: cinnamon and nutmeg mixed into the chocolate?? a-MAZ-ing, that's how it sounds.

and about the experimental the end of a long week, we deserve a drink, right? even if you are sitting at home alone watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas and blogging? here's what I combined: Strawberry vodka (trying to use up the small amount left), orange juice, and club soda. YUM! kind of a screwdriver-on-the-beach. i love baking and drinking.

Will update with pictures after I'm done!

update 1: the batter tastes pretty good, although it was thick. i didn't add any oil or butter, so i'm fearing hockey pucks.

update 2: pumpkin bars not turn out so good. kind of like the pumpkin bundt bread i made a few times last fall, these didn't cook in the middle. rather mushy. i still ate three.

The one in the top middle has chocolate chips on top, and i tried to spread them around, but that didn't work. I ate the other one. the two in the middle left are upside-down; they are the two with the graham cracker crust.

New plan: stick with the traditional pumpkin bar recipe. master it. change it. change the world...