Friday, December 7, 2012

In Place of TWD... Pumpkin Roll and Apple Spice Bars

This week Gretchen of Canela & Comino chose Lenox Almond Biscotti for the Tuesdays with Dorie recipe of the week. Unfortunately, neither my DH or I love... or dare I say even like biscotti so I decided to skip out on this week's choice. Sorry Gretchen! Please check out Gretchen's blog and the TWD blog though to see how others fared!

I couldn't not bake anything this week though so I decided to try some fall recipes that have been sitting in my stack of recipes to try. On the top of my pile was a pumpkin roll. I simply used the recipe from I had never made pumpkin roll before though and was curious to see how easy it would be to actually roll this thing up! Once I checked out the VeryBestBaking website though, I noticed a how-to video at the bottom of the recipe. The video is step-by-step and really explained things well. Once I finished watching it, I got to work on my own pumpkin roll and it was indeed super easy to make.

I made the roll in the evening and then set it in the fridge overnight. The next morning, I sliced a piece for myself and my mother-in-law who was visiting and she definitely liked it. In fact, after one bite, she said, "This is what you will be bringing to Thanksgiving dinner this year, okay?" :-) I enjoyed it too, especially with a nice warm cup of chai tea. Mmmm!

My next fall dessert to try was Katie's Apple Spice Cookie Bars. See her blog, Good Things Catered for this and many other fabulous recipes! To save some time though, here is her recipe as written in her blog:

Apple Spice Cookie Bars


2 c. plus 2 Tbsp all purpose flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/8 tsp nutmeg

1/8 tsp allspice

small pinch ground cloves

1/2 c. butter, melted

1 c. packed brown sugar

1 c. white sugar

2 eggs

1 Tbsp vanilla extract

2 apples, cored and diced (a little less than 2 c.)

cinnamon sugar for sprinkling


-Preheat oven to 350
degrees and line 9x13 pan with foil and baking spray.
-In medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves.

-Whisk to combine well and set aside.

-In bowl of stand mixer, combine sugars and butter and beat on medium high until light and fluffy, about 1 minute.

-Add eggs, one at a time, beating well to combine.

-Add vanilla extract and beat to combine.

-Turn mixer on slow and fold in flour mixture a little at a time until just combined.

-Fold in apples.

-Spread mixture evenly into prepared pan and sprinkle top generously with cinnamon sugar.

-Place in oven and bake until cooked through, when top slightly bounces back to the touch, about 30 minutes.

-Remove from oven and let cool completely before removing from pan, cutting and serving. (bars will be very soft)

I followed the recipe exactly as stated. The only thing that different was the apple -- in her ingredients, she has listed 2 apples (a little less than 2 cups). I bought two large apples and it turned out that one apple diced equaled a little under 2 cups, so I just used one apple. Anyhow, I followed the rest of the recipe as is. I hate to bake things too long as I HATE baked goods that are hard (hence my dislike for biscotti,) so I took out the Apple Spice Cookie Bars right at the 30 minute mark. I let them cool and then started slicing them. They seemed especially soft, but Katie indicated in the recipe that they're supposed to be super soft. I was still concerned though that maybe they were a little undercooked. My DH tried them and assured me they were fine. Phew! I popped them in the fridge and took them to work the next morning along with some pumpkin roll. (BTW, I'm happy to report that the apple spice bars set up nicely after cooling completely in the fridge.) The verdict? Both were a hit! Some people loved the pumpkin roll best while others loved the apple spice bars, but either way, both were well loved! I'll definitely make both of these again soon!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The Power of Positivity #3

So I went to Micheals today to get some $1 stamps and some other scrapbook supplies. I saw some stickers that were really pretty and that matched a paperpad I just bought. I really wanted them but they were $4. I was bummed! I was hoping that they were either on sale or that I could use my Joanns coupon since Michaels accepts competitor coupons, but alas I had no coupons whatsoever. As I continued to look throughout the store, I kept thinking, "Wow, I really wish I had a coupon!" A few minutes later, I looked over at a display and guess what I saw -- a Micheals ad with a 40% coupon good for today! COOL! Yes, I only saved about $2, but still, the Power of Positivity worked for me! ***Doing the happy dance*** :-)

Saturday, December 1, 2012

TWD: Rugelach

This week, Piggy of Piggy’s Cooking Journal chose Rugelach for our Tuesdays with Dorie recipe of the week. (Click on her blog title for the original recipe.) I have never even heard of these much less make them, so I was interested to try them. These were actually VERY easy to make, and kind of fun too! You basically roll out a simple dough (butter, cream cheese, flour and salt) into a circle, then slather with fruit jam, sprinkle with cinnamon, sugar, nuts, dried fruit and chocolate in this case. Slice into wedges, then roll up, starting from the wide end to the narrow tip. This was my favorite part. It was really easy to roll them up, and they looked so cute! Place the little cookies on parchment, wash with a little eggwash, sprinkle with sugar and bake.

While the filling of my cookies took on a very dark color, making them look a little less them yum, they still tasted pretty good! They were a little more chocolatey then I think I would like, so if I make these again, I think I'll put far less, or maybe no chocolate at all. I like the taste of the fruit and nuts best, so I think I'd like to focus more on those. It'll be fun too to try these again with different fruit jams and dried fruit combinations. I have some fig preserves that I'd like to try with this recipe. I wonder what dried fruit would go well with fig... Any ideas?

New Book: The Thirteenth Tale

I've been wanting the read The Thirteenth Tale for awhile now but I was waiting until it came out in paperback. Then when I was at Target yesterday, there it was! With Halloween right around the corner, I thought it would be a great choice! Here's a review from Amazon:

Settle down to enjoy a rousing good ghost story with Diane Setterfield's debut novel, The Thirteenth Tale. Setterfield has rejuvenated the genre with this closely plotted, clever foray into a world of secrets, confused identities, lies, and half-truths. She never cheats by pulling a rabbit out of a hat; this atmospheric story hangs together perfectly.

There are two heroines here: Vida Winter, a famous author, whose life story is coming to an end, and Margaret Lea, a young, unworldly, bookish girl who is a bookseller in her father's shop. Vida has been confounding her biographers and fans for years by giving everybody a different version of her life, each time swearing it's the truth. Because of a biography that Margaret has written about brothers, Vida chooses Margaret to tell her story, all of it, for the first time. At their initial meeting, the conversation begins:

"You have given nineteen different versions of your life story to journalists in the last two years alone."
She [Vida] shrugged. "It's my profession. I'm a storyteller."
"I am a biographer, I work with facts."

The game is afoot and Margaret must spend some time sorting out whether or not Vida is actually ready to tell the whole truth. There is more here of Margaret discovering than of Vida cooperating wholeheartedly, but that is part of Vida's plan.

Margaret has a story of her own: she was one of conjoined twins and her sister died so that Margaret could live. She feels an otherworldly aura sometimes or a yearning for a part of her that is forever missing. Vida's story involves two wild girls--feral twins (is she one of them?)--who would have been better off being suckled by wolves. Instead, their mother and uncle, involved in things too unsavory to contemplate, combine to neglect them woefully. There's also a governess, a Doctor, a kindly housekeeper, a gardener, and another presence--a very strange presence--which Margaret perceives as a ghost at first. Making obeisance to other great ghost stories, there is a deadly fire, a beautiful old house gone to ruin, and always that presence.... The transformative power of truth informs the lives of both women by story's end, and The Thirteenth Tale is finally and convincingly told. --Valerie Ryan

For a more detailed synopsis, check on the The Thirteenth Tale website.

I am only a few chapters in, but so far, I really enjoy the story. The writing is rich in vocabulary is and abundant with metaphors and personification that can make something as abstract as a lie seem like a character itself -- a language arts teacher's dream! (Just check out the quote listed under "Favorite Book Quotes" in the right column!) More on The Thirteenth Tale later!


Well I finished the book and really enjoyed it! It was different from some books I've read recently in the sense that it wasn't a page turner like The Davinci Code, which I quickly devoured. This book instead was a much slower read, but I believe, it should be! It's no fast food dinner that one wolfs down in the car. The author instead carefully, and artfully crafts a full eight course meal with suprises under each domed plate. As you savor each chapter, your anticipation for the next grows, yet the author will only give you one bite at a time. As you slowly make your way through the book, she saves the best surprise for last. And what a tasty, suprising dessert it is!

Feeling the Funk

With stressful times at work, I have been in a super funk the past few days! We got test results and some of the students who I've been working really hard with actually performed worse than earlier in the year! How is that possible?! Ugh! I don't put too much stock in those tests since really, all it is is one passage that a student reads in 1 minute. They count how many words the student got right and that is their score. Through other tests I do, and our daily work, I know many of those students have improved though, but still! Then right after I read those stupid results, two different students decided to get super sassy with me! Grrrr! I was hoping that coming home to scrap would make me feel better, but I think my frustrated attitude just didn't help! I just could not find the paper I wanted or was just never happy with what I was making! My husband said that I was way too hard on myself. Then I took a break and decided to check my email. I got an email from the makers of those super cute Studio G stamps I wanted (aka, "the precious",) and it turns out that ACMoore is the only store that will carry the stamps. We don't have ACM even close to where I live, so I am out of luck. :-( Waaah! Anyhow, despite the funk, I did complete one more criss cross card. I think came out okay...

Since I don't have much to share of my own work, I would love to share a blog that I often go to for inspiration. She is an awesome stamper and creates work that I can only hope to come close to! Check out Danielle at Fatcatstamper.