Thursday, October 22, 2009

Sweets For My...Self

I must interrupt this not at all regularly scheduled post to tell you that I am, for the first time ever, an Aunt!!! That's right, my big sister gave birth to the most precious baby boy that has ever been witnessed Thursday afternoon. I believe I may be glowing. He came a bit early. I was only going to have to wait about 3 weeks to meet him, and now I have to wait allllll the way until Thanksgiving. That's a whole month! Who can wait that long?! You won't be seeing his face on No, sir. He is an angel. The most beautiful baby I have ever seen. Welcome to the world Bagel*!

Ok, back to the food. I felt the need for baking last weekend, and actually ended up overdoing it a bit. It's Friday and there are still sweets looming around the kitchen. That is unheard of! Especially with my cookie monster husband on the loose. I just couldn't help myself. I've been saving up pumpkin recipes all year. I'm busting at the seams with them! Unfortunately, it wasn't what I would deem a successful baking adventure. Check it out.
  • Pumpkin swirl brownies, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. I don't know why it took me so long to make these. I've been drooling over this recipe for almost a year now. These turned out good, but dry. Very dry. I think I may have over-mixed? They're also a bit crumbly. But you know what I realized while I was baking them? That was my first attempt making brownies from scratch. We always used a box mix growing up. And, well, I just don't make brownies as often as I should. As such, I think it was pretty darn successful. And I would definitely attempt this recipe again. Deb says to thin out the chocolate batter if it's too thick, but I wonder if it would turn out better to have the chocolate a bit on the thick side and the pumpkin a bit on the lighter side. Maybe the pumpkin flavor would come through a bit better that way? Ok really I think from her pictures, hers just look tastier than mine. See? The pumpkin got lost a little bit amidst the chocolate.
  • Pumpkin cinnamon rolls, courtesy of White Apples. If you can believe it, this was also my first time making cinnamon rolls. We never had cinnamon rolls growing up, so I just never thought to make them before. But I do think they're tasty, and with pumpkin thrown in the mix, downright irresistible! But I did have some problems. I did everything per the recipe, but somehow about 10 minutes into baking the top started to brown. By 12 minutes I was concerned. Could they really be done already? Thankfully the recipe listed the internal temperature because my handy dandy thermometer told me that even though the top was browning, they weren't done yet, so I popped them back in. After about 15 minutes they were done. And the top was a little hard. I'm pretty sure cinnamon rolls aren't supposed to have a crispy top, are they? Did I over-steam them? Next time maybe I'll try baking them at 375. The rolls themselves were delicious. Husband says they weren't pumpkin-y or cinnamon-y enough. I think they were fine on both those counts, but I had issue with the icing. I thought the coffee was very overpowering. Next time I think I would nix the coffee and add some pumpkin puree and pumpkin pie spice instead. Since the pumpkin was subtle in the roll, I don't think it would be too pumpkin-y to have it in the icing too. I think I would add a bit of pumpkin pie spice to the cinnamon and brown sugar mixture as well. I just can't get enough pumpkin pie spice. For some reason I decided to use an oval baking dish, rather than my square 9" pan that would have perfectly held, say, 9 cinnamon rolls. I think it was full of brownies or some such nonsense. Thus the very oddly shaped roll. That's ok, though. It still tasted delicious.
  • Raspberry breakfast bars, courtesy of Smitten Kitchen. Ok, what is wrong with me? These turned out the worst of the three! Costco had a huge flat of raspberries for disgustingly cheap last weekend, and I immediately thought of making these bars. I had wanted to make them all summer, but raspberries were always too expensive. Are they an end of summer fruit and I just didn't know it? I'm new to this seasonal eating them, so pardon my ignorance. Anyway, these turned out...well, soggy. I cooked the bottom layer until golden brown, as instructed, but I guess it's wasn't quite golden enough because once I baked it a second time with the raspberry mixture introduced, it wasn't even chewy. Just soggy. The flavors are still excellent. It's just not a "bar". I've been eating them on top of Greek-style yogurt as an afternoon pig-out-fest snack. Next time I think I'll try reserving just a cup of the mixture for the top, and upping both baking times. Hopefully that'll scare any sogginess out of these puppies. Yes, even though these were the biggest disaster of the weekend, I would still make them again. The flavors were good, so hopefully it just needs some tweaking. They sure don't look like much, but, as I'm eating one right now, I can attest to the deliciously sweet raspberry flavor.

Add on top of this the pumpkin ice cream I found at the grocery store (I was only in the ice cream section because Husband requested it for easier consumption of the dry brownies), and we were both on dessert overload this week. Husband, bless his heart, has been taking baby steps to get in better shape. He started off by tagging along on more of my nightly walks with Theo for exercise. Then he started getting up earlier, with the intent that once he's used to getting up earlier, he might actually be able to push himself to run that early. He's also really started watching his portion sizes. It's amazing how much less we eat compared to last year. And the baby step of this week? Requesting that next week be dessert free. He's been able to keep a few pounds off, but thinks without the sweets he may be able to drop some more rather than just maintain. Gee, what a concept! I like to have a little something, but this week was total overload. My bad. And since I'll be on travel for work next week, I can easily comply with the request. Hey, how about I skip cooking too? Heh. I chose to believe this line of reasoning than the alternative: he wants a break from my baking disasters. That couldn't be it....could it?

A big welcome to all the people checking out this blog for the first time via Theo's blog. Hope you like it! I am making an effort to take more pictures, since I'm a very visual person. I have a hard time getting excited about a recipe unless I see a picture of it. The recipes I link here have a picture 30 times better than mine probably 99% of the time, so there's always that option, but it's been fun to capture the food I make too. Since I do my cooking late Sunday night (ok, that's actually when I end up finishing everything. I start much earlier), I don't usually end up taking pictures until the next day or later, since the lighting can be so bad, and I'm usually too tired by that point. Thus the same glass container you'll probably start seeing more and more. That would be my lunch box!

Did I mention I'm an Aunt? Because I am. Just a tad excited. Just saying.

*His name is not really Bagel. It's a nick name of sorts. You can't expect my family to constantly refer to a growing life form for 9 months and not name it something. No way.


Cathy said...

Congrats on aunthood! So exciting!

I have had my eye on Deb's pumpkin brownie recipe for some time now...

Glad you had a chance to try the cinnamon rolls. If you're still interested in experimenting (I still am), I recently tried a different dough recipe that I liked much better (no pumpkin, but I'm sure you can substitute). The rolls came out softer and fluffier (lower oven temp, of course). I still add the coffee in the icing, since I'm a coffee fiend, but pumpkin spice sounds heavenly.

JuLo said...

Thanks for the recipe, Cathy! They were really delicious, and got me to finally try making cinnamon buns! Your frankenstein recipe sounds awesome! I'll definitely have to try that next. I just bought Reinhart's book. I love it!

Aj said...

I became inspired to make some pumpkin swirl brownies after reading your blog. I went to Vons and they didn't have any canned pumpkin, but pumpkin pie mix. And next month is Thanksgiving! Do you think it'll be okay to use?

Congrats on becoming an auntie!

JuLo said...

Aj - Vons only had pumpkin pie mix? How dare they? You were looking in the baking section? They usually have a can of Libby's pumpkin puree right next to the pumpkin pie mix. I actually have no idea what the difference is. Check the ingredients. If they've just added spices, then as long as you like the spices added, it shouldn't hurt the brownies. If they've added things like leveners and thickeners, I have no idea how it will affect the recipe. Let me know how it turns out!

Diana Mo' said...

dewd, was it the edy's/dreyer's slow churned pumpkin ice cream? that stuff is SO GOOD. i just ate the last of some of it yesterday. yums.

congratulations on becoming an auntie. ;)

the Provident Woman said...

I'm so hungry now. And I'm dieting. The two don't mix.

Wanted to let you know that I have a giveaway on my blog. Just click on the giveaway picture on one of the right sidebars.