Thursday, August 27, 2015

Spectacular Summer Pies {Cooking Class}

This summer, I had the privilege of joining several wonderful ladies for an afternoon of cooking and learning the art of the perfect pie crust!

Now, if you're anything like me, you've got your pie filling down.  There isn't anyone that can light a match next to what you've got cooked up, inside the pie, but the crust.....well, you'll leave that to Mrs. Smith's or Betty Crocker.  #truestory

See, until now, I've never really felt like I had a tight enough grip on a really great-tasting pie crust to even dare make one from scratch to go with my pecan pies, sweet potato pie or my sweet bean pie.  I just let the store-brands do the talking for me.  You know what I'm saying...

Well, I went to this class for my birthday & without me ever even telling the other ladies there, they just immediately kept saying, "Alright, you do this.  YOU need to practice rolling out the dough", etc, etc.  

It was just the practice that I needed and they were a lot of fun too.

It's hard not to turn the tables over with people that are so kind and generous.  In reality, these ladies really were as sweet as the pies that we were making.

By the time that we were done, we had each had a turn practicing our crust, for full crust pies.  

Our pinch, to get that perfect little edge.

Making little hand-held pies filled with some of the sweetest and freshest ingredients.

I swear, even after all of the years of experience that I have in the kitchen, I am always open to learn something new!

Happy Baking! 

Thursday, August 20, 2015

"Waffles for Mom" Cooking Class

This past Mother's Day weekend, Sophia and I got to go to a very special cooking class held at the Williams Sonoma Store in South Park,hosted by the very talented Chef Cynthia Goch.   

Sophia got to learn some hands-on techniques, while I watched, for making homemade waffles topped with fresh apples and a even a delicious smoothie on the side!  Her little smile was, priceless.  And Chef Cynthia Goch was extremely knowledgeable and patient while the kids got to try out all of the different equipment and to measure out their ingredients.

I loved how the each took turns on the apple peeler and stirring the waffle mix.  You could tell that they were proud of themselves and what they were doing. 

The store was also full of lots of colorful deliciousness that my camera couldn't help but capture.  They were curds, recipes and tablescapes, everywhere.

Bravo to Chef Goch and my little Sophia (and all of the other little chefs).  

It was one AMAZING breakfast!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Tips for Making Curds & Cobblers

I want to take a minute to re-visit one very important, and sometimes over-looked step when you're making homemade curds or cobblers.  Part of the basis of your unique and quality, really creamy curds (or cobblers) is that you want to have absolutely NO LUMPS, whatsoever.  And the key to getting that super smooth and silky texture is going to happen when you're prepping your dry ingredients.

Before you ever even add your liquids or strained fruit juices to your thickening agent (which in our case is either going to be a flour/sugar mixture or a cornstarch/sugar mix), you have got to make sure that the flour agent and the sugar have been completed mixed, a thoroughly blended like it is in this pic, below.

Now, I need you to pinkie-swear me, that you will not, absolutely not, by any means, skip this step and allow a lumpy curd to be served on your table.

Do we have a deal?

If so, please take a minute to go back over this recipe, and practice the curd part of it, and see how smooth and delicious your curd comes out when you have slowly but surely stirred each and every part.

Okay, Mama is done.  Have a Happy Monday friends!

xo- Bakie

Monday, June 8, 2015

Chicken Kabobs & Ribbon Zucchini

So much of cooking is doing some that is innovative for your very own family.  I am a firm believer that when we put our best foot forward, that it should be to our family first, and then to everyone else, out from there.  That is where I prepared this meal for dinner for my little bunch.  It was literally a regular week night where the chicken was up, and I did want to serve something that we had, had before.
One of the easiest ways that I find to take your meat (or any veggie) to another level is to #1- change it's shape.  So here we go.  We're just starting off with your standard chicken breast.  I find that I like the breast meat of the chicken served best on skewers.  As you'll notice, the standard skewers that you find in your local grocery store may not fit on the inside of all of your pans.  In my case, it didn't but on an outdoor or stove-top grill, you have a safe bet.  For indoors, and pans with a rim, you will have to break a portion of the skewer off to measure down to the size of your pan.

*Note:  You might be wondering why I did not choose to cut the skewer down before starting with the meat?  The reason is because, I still wanted to use the pointy part to pierce through before they were ready to go into my pan.

I took my chicken kabobs to the next level by implementing one very simple trick:

Changing the flavor.

If you always use salt and pepper, or salt, pepper and a little bit of garlic that switch things up a bit.  For this particular meal, I went with powder garlic and dried oregano.  If you have fresh, that is great too, but it is not always the most convenient that have handy.  No fresh herbs on hand, have no fear.  You're just going to hit your "creativity" button into play and come up with something awesome.  Sound good?

They tasted as good as they looked and everyone was surprised to see that we were having this fun dish literally in the middle of the week, and...just because. :-)

Now, I added another fun element to our dinner: zucchini.  And not just any zucchini.  Again, like I said, switch it up!  Cooking for your family is supposed to be fun and invigorating.  What greater joy in the kitchen should one have then to know that the meal that you have placed before your family was nourishing and that the time and energy that you have put forth was a sincere expression of your love?  (Okay, maybe I am just super-passionate about food but there is a science to it, I tell ya!)

My zucchini has a similar creative flair to it.  Again, something different.  We eat zucchini from time to time, but never like this.  (I think that I may be on to something).  This night, I peeled all of the skin off of it, and then for the part that remained, I just ran my peeler down each side in vertical strokes leaving me with medium-thickness zucchini ribbons.  It was AWESOME!  (Alright, there I go again, getting too happy about food but I can't help it!)

The moment of truth: my family LOVED it!  My girls loved most that the chicken was on a stick and the my husband was just please that we were having a meal like this, again, in the middle of the week and for no special occasion.  He LOVED the way the zucchini turned out.  It really was something special!

So what are you doing with dinner this week to change things up?  Are you going to grab one of those spices that you've never even used?  Or how about family pizza night?  Rather than making that same old pizza crust, why not through some herbs into it?  Or even make a up a compound butter to go with bread at dinner?

Bon Appetit!

xo- Bakie 

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