Thursday, December 2, 2010

Mommy's Mis-Adventures in the Kitchen- Thanksgiving 2010

Well folks this blog has been mostly about my adventures as a mom with my beloved peanuts. But after a conversation over dinner with some good friends (~~&&NYC) I've decided to shake things up a bit around here. Part of being a mom of two picky eaters & wife of another picky eater means experimenting in the kitchen. Now if you're a member of my family, you probably don't think I can cook, but I assure you that I can. I just don't cook for all of you because you guys only like one type of food, Peruvian, that's it! If you're a friend that we've had over for dinner and/or parties you know that good food will always be in abundance at our home gatherings. And if you're my husband (hopefully there's only 1 person who can claim this) you know that I love love love cook books & watching cooking on TV and on occasion I'll actually try new things! Giada, Ina Rachel & Paula are my idols and I would do anything to spend a day in their kitchen. But since I can't I will invite them to spend a day in MINE. :) ...in my mind of course.

While being a working mom of twins certainly makes me very busy, I can't neglect other interests that I'm passionate about. There are things I enjoy doing & maybe one day I can make a decent living from it! But whether I can make money or not it shouldn't stop me from doing them. So I've made a commitment to myself (& my blog) to pursue these interests and share some of my adventures with those who care to read about it.

Soooo...Mommy's Mis-Adventures In the Kitchen #1

I'm not a trained chef. I can't even say that I'm a great cook. I like to say that I'm a decent cook that every now then surprises my family with something great. But here I will share with you my ups & downs in my kitchen with some of my favorite top chefs & their recipes.


Every year at Thanksgiving I think of a few dishes I want to try out. Ask J, it's no easy task for me but I do put a lot of effort into it. First I go through a list of dishes from something I've watched on the Food Network from one of my mentors (Ina, Giada, Paula, or Rachel). On occasion I have used some others for inspiration. I might also stumble upon something surfing through other blogs or my fav Cooking Light magazine. Some key dishes have been so good we've made them a tradition. Others experiments have been a big goose egg....ERRR try again :(

For dessert I usually make the pies, both pumpkin (my little brother's favorite) and sweet potato which seems to be everyone's favorite. Look how pitty pitty is my sweet potato pies :)

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And we usually need to make extra for our post-Thanksgiving dinner at our house. Here's a yummy pumpkin pie that my lil bro likes because its delish but also a healthy version I got from Cooking Light magazine.

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This year THIS caught my eye. Even the title of this recipe made my mouth water, Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake. UMMM I know your mouth is watering too right? After reading this over & over again it sounded easy & I have to admit that it was easy, even for this novice baker.

If you look at our pictures side by side, I would say...not bad.

Here's mine...

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And here's miss Sprinkle Bake's...cool huh?! Ok so her's looks a tad better but I'm sure it's the whole camera angle.






While this really was an easy recipe, nothing is THAT easy for me. So here's my Pumpkin Spice Latte Cheesecake adventure. First off I don't do crusts. I don't know why but I have attempted a few times & it just doesn't happen for me. For my pies I go with the frozen store brand & it usually works out great. But I couldn't find any cheesecake crusts in the frozen aisle. So I walked down the baking aisle and examined every so called easy-to-make crust. After thorough analysis and about 10 minutes of my kids screaming at me, I went with the graham cracker crumbs & followed the directions on the back. It was 3 steps, how hard could it be? Done.

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Back home, it's Wednesday night and the girls are fast asleep. There's no way I could do this with them up & I wanted my focus to be on this dessert. I also prepped my pies at night too. So I'm making my graham cracker crust & I realize that the box doesn't answer some of the for-dummies-questions like, what if it doesn't look like it's enough? The directions say add the butter & press into your spring form pan. Got it, but I'm pressing & it's cracking & leaving gaps. So I keep pressing & pressing & somehow this is stuff is supposed to be enough for the bottom of the pan & up the sides?? Uumm...I don't think so. Then I figure I'll make more but I don't have enough to double the instructions so how much butter do I add to what's left of crumbs about 1/2 cup? Again, there is no 1-800# on the back of the box! Seriously, if anyone from Betty Crocker is reading, here's a suggestion add a friggin phone number where newbie bakers can call with questions. And make sure there's an experienced American baker answering the line.
Anyhow, I did what I could & into the freezer it went to chill out while I made the filling. I have to say the filling went a whole lot better & it really was pretty easy. UNTIL....until I realized I forgot to get the instant espresso. AAACKK! My cheesecake is nearly done & there's a missing ingredient. So I think...do I improvise? That's never really gone that well for me. Do I substitute with instant coffee? How bad could it be? Do I just skip it? Hmmm...nope. I decided to send J to the supermarket at 11pm at night. I know, I know, BIIIIIG mistake. Ladies, never, evah, evah send a grumpy husband to the market for something he's never seen before in his life. Even with specific instructions and the indication of which aisle he should go to, he still came back with coffe grounds. Yes friends this is not instant, it's ground espresso. UGGHHH meanwhile my filling is sitting idle waiting for the final touch!!

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However in his defense and as a note to his incredible patience with me he went back & called from the super market until he got the right thing. Thank you God.

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At 1am out came Penelope (that's my name for my master piece) & she looked lovely. And she smelled even better. I set her gently on the cooling rack to cool for an hour.

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And then I realized the recipe did not say how the heck you're supposed to get the cake off of the bottom pan. WTF?? I wasn't ABOUT to ruin my masterpiece by trying to scrape it off the friggin pan. Again people, maybe to you chefs it's stating the obvious but to people like me it's a rack-your-brain-effort to figure this stuff out. I realize I'm a college graduate but I'm a home ec dropout. So Penelope stayed in the pan. And we just placed her on a pretty dish & covered up nicely & carefully placed into the fridge until tomorrow, when we'd have to figure out how to get her to Grandma's house for dinner in one piece. I offered to take separate cars for Penelope's sake but J was not having it. MEN!

My presentation is not quite as sophisticated as Ms. Sprinkle Bakes but I think it was ok. I couldn't do the whole powdered sugar pattern & opted for a more abstract look. I think the next time I make this I'll add some vanilla cool whip which might be a nice compliment to the hint of latte in the cake.

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The critics response: J is not a coffee drinker so he couldn't appreciate the spice latte bit. I think only those who have had the distinct pleasure of enjoying a Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte could really dig this. But he liked it & ate his share without leaving anything behind. Translation, thumb up! And my brother-in-law asked me why didn't live closer so he could eat some more. Translation, TWO thumbs up!! :) YAY!!

1 comment:

Sadaf Trimarchi said...

Dying of hunger. ADORE sweet potato pie, btw. Fabulous job. Am I hallucinating from hunger or did I read you were up till 1:00 am working on Penelope? You rock girl.