Thursday, April 21, 2011

The ABC's of Me

My computer had a meltdown last week (and I along with it).  So I'm just going to do this thing, because it seems fun.

A. Age: 28
B. Bed size: Queen, and T wants to upgrade to a King.  (I have no idea why, I'll still burrow next to him for warmth)
C. Chore you hate: Bathrooms! Yuck.
D. Dogs: Not so big on the animals.
E. Essential start to your day: iPhone checking, it's kinda sad.
F. Favorite color: super deep teal
G. Gold or silver: I've recently embraced all forms of sparkle
H. Height: 5’10"
I. Instruments: I played piano in 3rd grade.
J. Job title: Interior Designer with an Architecture degree
K. Kids: none, and it will stay that way for a while
L. Live: Los Angeles
M. Mom’s name: Mary
N. Nicknames: Leenie
O. Overnight hospital stays: No overnight stays, just a few day surgeries on my eyes
P. Pet peeve: How hard is it to close the door on a kitchen cabinet, I'm just saying
Q. Quote from a movie: I'm so not the kind of person that pays attention to movie quotes
R. Right or left handed: Right
S. Siblings: One brother and one sister
T. Time you wake up: 9:00, I love that.
U. Underwear: Gap Body cotton that covers everything
V. Vegetables you dislike: Green bell peppers, I think that's it
W. What makes you run late: My intense love of sleep
X. X-Rays you’ve had: lower back and teeth
Y. Yummy food you make: cakes, and more cakes
Z. Zoo- favorite animal: Not much of an animal person, but maybe a gorgeous, brightly colored bird

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Update: The Brown Sugar Caramel Fro-Yo and Lace Cookies Won!

I won the first NoshGirl Chef Challenge!  All I have to say is yahoo!  And a big thanks to Serena for hosting the competition.

In other news, Magnum Bars finally made it to the United States last month.  If any of you have ventured over to Europe, you've probably sampled these amazing ice cream bars.  They're so good, and I was overcome with excitement when I saw them in the grocery store the other day.  So overcome in fact, that I bought some.

And I was glad that I did.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Brown Sugar Caramel Fro-yo and Lace Cookies

I was so excited when Serena of Big Apple Nosh let me in on her new challenge idea.  I signed up right away and am so excited to help break this thing in.  The chosen ingredients are plain yogurt and brown sugar, and I decided to make a recipe that really starred these two things.

It's funny that brown sugar was an ingredient because in the past few weeks I have just come to realize how different 'good' brown sugar can make a recipe.  I'd always bought the standard stuff that you can find at any grocery store, but recently I've been buying the organic kind.  The texture and flavor are more different than  you'd expect and I've really enjoyed trying it out in some of my standard recipes.

For these recipes I went full out and got organic dark brown sugar, this was going to be a punch of brown sugar, rather than a hint.

My first instinct was to bake something super moist with the yogurt, but I've been baking a lot lately and it's been a bit warmer here in SoCal, so I decided to try making some fro-yo instead.  To make it less of an L.A. cliche, I made it with full-fat yogurt.

The dessert has three components, the fro-yo, the brown sugar caramel sauce (used in the fro-yo and as a topping), and the lace cookies that are my homemade replacement for a waffle cone.

Start by straining the yogurt, because thicker yogurt equals a creamier end result.  I used a quart of yogurt and over a half cup of liquid was strained off.  It's kind of impressive.

Now, the hard part, making the caramel sauce.  Start with the brown sugar in a skillet over medium heat.  Stir it a bit as it melts and make sure it doesn't burn.

Once, it's nice and smooth, I added the heavy cream, butter and vanilla.

It will bubble like crazy, just stir until it calms down.

Now, there may be people out there that are amazing at melting sugar and can mix in the cream and butter without making little lumps of hard caramel, but I can't figure it out.  So, I just strained it.

And the end result was a lovely, dark, smooth sauce.

Next, I took the strained yogurt and added the heavy cream, vanilla and salt.  I whisked it smooth and then added most of the caramel sauce.

I added the maple syrup, stirred it, then put it in the fridge to cool.

For the lace cookies, start by melting the butter in a medium bowl.  Add the sugars and stir.  Then add the milk, flour, vanilla and salt and combine.  Finally, stir in the oats and the batter is ready.

I started out, by trying to fit 12 on a pan, no dice.  These things spread like crazy.

I could comfortably fit about 6 of the cookies on there.  Let them cool on the pan, because they will fall apart otherwise.

Ah, that's better.  A little breathing room.

Now that your yogurt has chilled, it's time to freeze it.  I have the KitchenAid ice cream bowl that you use with your stand mixer and I don't love it.  It brings the temperature of the yogurt down, but it never gets super thick.  So eventually I just stuck it in the freezer and gave it a good stir every half hour to an hour, so that it stayed scoopable.

After all of that, it's time to dish the fro-yo up with some of the remaining sauce on top and a cookie stuck in the side.

Maybe a sprinkling of some nice salt on top?  Yeah, that would be nice.  Do that.

I'm not going to lie, this has some pretty intense molasses flavor, so if you're not a fan of that, then I'd go with light brown sugar, and maybe sub in some white sugar.

Now, on to the recipes.

Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce

1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
1 stick (8 Tbsps.) unsalted butter (if you have salted, just omit the salt from the rest of the recipe)
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1/2 teaspoon salt

Place sugar in skillet over medium heat.  Once it starts to melt, stir occasionally until it is all melted.

Lower the heat and add remaining ingredients.  Stir until the bubbles calm down.  Strain the sauce.

Yields about 1 3/4 cups sauce.

Brown Sugar Frozen Yogurt

32 oz. tub of plain yogurt, strained
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cup Brown Sugar Caramel Sauce
1/2 cup maple syrup

Whisk heavy cream and vanilla into yogurt until smooth.  Add caramel and syrup and stir until smooth.

Chill for a couple of hours.  Then follow the instructions on your ice cream maker.

Yields a little over a quart of frozen yogurt.

Brown Sugar Lace Cookies

1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp. cinammon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
1 cup rolled oats

Combine melted butter and sugars.  Stir in milk, vanilla, flour and spices.  Add the oats and give a few stirs.

Drop by rounded 1/2 teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet lined with a silpat or parchment.  Bake at 375 degrees for 9-11 minutes.  Let them cool on the pan until set.

Yields about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.