Buckeyes and Fridays

This might not have been the best project for the end of a long work week.
This is another one of those recipes in my 'Must Try It' file.  I was really looking forward to making this stuff.  End of.
The reality is that I  was kinda grouchy, kinda tired, kinda already stretched thin.  Truth is though that I needed to get my hands into something but I was out of sorts enough not to be able to settle on something.  Just in a funk.
I thought that maybe the mundane rolling and dipping of balls would be just the thing to settle my mind and put me in the right frame of mind.  What the project did though was just frustrate me from beginning to end.
The forming of the balls got tedious and Kid #1 and Kid #2 couldn't keep out of it

- which is fine really, it just means that there is a lot of questions and possibly bickering and then eating of unformed balls and...

Then came the chocolate.
I didn't have a full 12 ounces.  I used the 6 oz that I had and decided that I would finish the rest tomorrow.
And then there was the dipping of the balls in chocolate.  If there is anything more frustrating then trying not to drop and entire ball into chocolate and then lifting it out, letting it drip off (while leaving some of the ball untouched by chocolate), placing it beautifully on a piece of parchment without the ball looking like it got poked or scraped or just generally mucked up then I don't know about it.

What really irked me was that the damn things tasted better than the sum of their parts.  The peanut butter stuff on it's own wasn't a thrill ride and we all know that dark chocolate melted and all by itself isn't gonna make fireworks in your mouth.  Combine the two and something kinda nice happens.  It's rich mind and one or two will do you (not a bad thing though when it comes to sweets, eh?)

Would I do this again soon?  NO... Hell No!  Was it worth it?  Now that I've had a glass of something that the kids can't drink I can honestly say that yeah it was worth it (but it wasn't worth it as much as those Twix Bars were worth it - I'm still dreaming about those things!)  

Buckeyes from Dana Treat from Baked Explorations
makes a boat load - about 40

1/4 cup cream cheese, soft
1 1/2 cups peanut butter
1 cup graham cracker crumbs (about 9 crackers)
3 cups icing sugar, sifted
3/4 cups unsalted butter, melted and cooled
12 oz dark chocolate, chopped

Combine the cream cheese and peanut butter together until it's well mixed.
Add in the graham cracker crumbs and mix well.
Add in half the melted butter and combine thoroughly.
Add in icing sugar and mix in thoroughly.
Add the rest of the butter and mix.
Let the mixture rest for a few minutes.
Form into balls by the tablespoons and place on some parchment or something.

Melt the chocolate (double boiler or microwave if you wish).
Let it cool just a little.
Take the peanut butter balls and use something brilliant to dip the balls into the chocolate without getting the whole ball covered (ie. leave some 'unchocolated').  Lift the ball and let the chocolate drip off a bit and then remove back to the parchment.
Let the beautiful chocolate balls harden or firm up or whatever...

Maple Layer Cake... and FRIENDS!

I don't entertain very much.
It's a funny thing.  I write a food blog.  I enjoy cooking... a lot.  I love baking... a lot.  But I don't love entertaining.  Luisa said something about it here in this post.  She was able to articulate something that I have felt for a long time.  When I put a lot of effort into something, in the case of entertaining it is food, I don't want to indulge in it myself after the fact.  I can put a lot of time into putting together the main course, making the dessert and then when we all get down to the meal I would really be just as happy eating a salad and a pita (whole wheat of course).
I don't know why... even after Luisa's most articulate post I can't put finger on why exactly I have this reaction.  Maybe it's the strain, the doing and doing, the working to impress the guests with food and drink that cause them to leave your home feeling refreshed and filled.  Either way, I usually just eat because I feel like I have to and it tastes like chew and swallow fare to me.

Well, you all will be happy to know that I've found the answer... make sure that you are eating so late that you (and of course your guests as well) are totally starving.  I now know this from experience.
Last night I had a little reunion of sorts with two friends from McGill.  The festivities started around 6:30 or so.  We were waiting for D to arrive home from a gig to begin to eat (Just for the record, we were serving Sweet and Sour meatballs, Mashed Potato and Celeriac, cauliflower and broccoli stir fried in sesame and tamari).  D thought that the very short gig would end around 7pm.
When 7:45 arrived and D still hadn't arrived home I texted him to see when he would be arriving.  Needless to say we finally all got to tuck into some food around 8:30 or so.  Let me tell you, I was hungry!  Not hungry enough to go nuts 'cause this is a dinner party that I've cooked for but at least I ate a plate and didn't feel ambivalent about it.  As for everyone else, let's just say that there were no leftovers.

Now onto the cake.  Maple syrup being the order of the day here after our sugar bush experience I settled on this layer cake from the Magnolia Cookbook.  The cake is light but substantial and the maple flavour is present in just the right kind of way.  I went with a cream cheese icing with just a hint of maple to that the whole thing wouldn't be too over powering.
I know what you all are wondering.... YES, I did eat the cake!

Maple Layer Cake (adapted from 'The Complete Magnolia Bakery Cookbook')
makes 1 layer cake!

3 3/4 cup self raising flour
1/2 tsp ginger
3/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
3 lg eggs at room temperature
1 1/2 cups maple syrup
3/4 (ish) cup hot water

Prepare two round cake tins by greasing and flouring them (you could use parchment or something if you wanted to as well).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Sift together the flour and the ginger and set aside.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy.  Add in the eggs one at a time, beating until light and fluffy (I love those two words) after each addition.  Add in the maple syrup and mix well.
Add the flour alternately with the hot water (make it about thirds or so - beginning and ending with the flour).  Mix until there are no lumps.
Divide the batter between the two prepared baking tins.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until the cakes are spongy on top and a cake tester comes out clean.
Cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the tins.  Finish cooling the cakes on cooling racks.

Maple Cream Cheese Icing

1 pkg. cream cheese
3 - 3 1/2 cups icing sugar
1 tbsp unsalted butter
1 tbsp maple syrup

Cream together the cream cheese and the butter in a bowl.  Sift in the icing sugar in 1 cup increments.  Blend in the icing sugar after each addition.  As the icing begins to thicken add in the maple syrup and blend together.  Add as much icing sugar as you need to thicken the icing to the desired consistency.
Add a little less than half the icing to the top of the first layer of the cake.  Place the other cake layer on top and add the rest of the icing.

Kale and Cashew Pesto Pasta Bake

I got a surprise lately.  Apparently while I was in university I made a lasagna.  It was a veggie lasagna (my friends remember what they call my veggie phase with little or no fondness).  It was good.  It was made with nuts instead of meat.  Think of nuts as the meat replacer.  I'm saying 'apparently' because I have no recollection whatsoever of this dish.  It sounds good and both my friends remembered having it and remembered liking it a lot.  But me... I don't remember a thing.  I remember this zucchini dish that I made which I really liked.  I remember lending out the recipe book that contained the zucchini recipe.  I remember never getting that book back and not remembering the recipe with enough exactness to replicate it.  And I remember being sad about it.  I don't remember the nut lasagna.
In fact, to my mind nuts were never in my savoury dish repertoire.  They were quite present in the sweets/dessert genre but that's it.  It's cool to be reminded that at some point long long ago I used nuts in a dish that didn't contain large quantities of sugar.
Well, I wish that I had not forgotten how wonderful using nuts in savoury dishes can be.  The silver lining is that it's been like a whole new discovery over the last year or so.  I've used peanut sauce for chicken and stir fries.  I've put ground cashews in chicken tikka (my fam is still raving about that chicken recipe).  This pasta recipe is being added to the nut list and it was good, really good.

It's not really pesto.  I'm not sure why I called it that.  I guess that because I ground some stuff up in the blender and I used a nut (not a pine nut mind you) it brought pesto to mind.  However, if you had some fresh basil to throw into the nut/parmesan thing that would be awesome too.

This little 'nut' experiment turned out to be a great mid-week dinner option.  I like that it's veggie.  I like that it's a great way to use kale in an out of the ordinary kind of way.  I like that it's pasta and it feels substantial.
Having been reminded of my nut lasagna I'm going searching tonight... for a nutty lasagna recipe... 'cause Damn, it sounds good.

Kale and Cashew Pesto Pasta Bake
serves 4 as a main course

2 cups cashews (or a mix or pinenut, walnut, cashew... whatever)
3/4 cups parmesan cheese, grated
2 cups cream
1/2 cup reserved pasta water
2 veggie bouillion cubes (dissolve in the reserved pasta water)
1/2 cup grated cheese (cheddar or something stronger if you wish)
4 cups cooked pasta (rotini or penne), reserve some of the pasta water
1 bunch Kale (diced to very fine, feathery bits)
1 small onion, sliced
1 rib celery, diced
1 lg clove garlic, crushed
2 cups button mushrooms (or mushroom of choice)
salt to taste
1 tbsp oregano
1 tbsp basil
dash of pepper sauce (just cause)
1 tbsp of brown sugar (or honey)

Blend or puree together the cashews (or whatever), about 1/2 a cup of the parmesan and a little bit of the pasta water (enough to make a good paste).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  Get a medium to large sized baking dish ready.
Saute the onion and celery on medium heat until the onions are becoming clear and the celery is browning just a little.  Add in the garlic and the mushrooms.  Saute for another 6 minutes or so.  Add in the Kale and cook until wilted.
Turning the heat down to low add the cashew puree, cream, bouillion cubes and grated cheese to the veggies and heat through.  Stir well so that nothing gets stuck to the pan.  Add the oregano, basil, sugar and pepper sauce (optional).  Check the taste and add salt if needed.
Toss the pasta into the veggie sauce.  Pour the whole thing into the baking dish.  Top with the remaining parmesan and bake for about 30 minutes or until the top is golden and bubbly.
Cool for a few minutes before serving.

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St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.

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  • Naparima Girls High School Cookbook
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Wanda Thorne
St Michael's Choir School is celebrating it's 75th anniversary year of service to St Michael's Cathedral. Part of the school celebration is a trip to Italy where our boys from Grades 5 - 12 will be performing and celebrating Mass. This blog will be chronicling our adventures. Wanda Thorne is the Vocal Coach at St Michael's Choir School. Gerard Lewis is the Grade 7/8 Homeroom teacher at the Choir School.
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