It’s been months…MONTHS since I’ve had time to lose myself in the groove of making something intricate in the kitchen. Of course, I’ve cooked the occasional steak or chicken dish for dinner but never one I felt I could call truly creative. This is the first time in months I’ve had fun baking something.
As I’ve stated in nearly all my blogs this year, I’ve been going through some stressful changes. I’m a week away from closing on my first house and have been feverishly working on my novella, “The Collection” in order to have it ready to print in July. Today in particular, I was really feeling the pressure. I’ve been packing my apartment up bit by bit for over a week, my life slowly being boxed away and the place I’ve called home for the last five years is beginning to feel less and less so.
Similarly at my job, one of my wonderful co-workers is moving on to bigger and brighter things with a new job. I decided very last minute that I’d make him something as a going away gift. I’d seen a recipe for some Mocha Crinkle Cookies on Pinterest yesterday and decided that those would be the perfect thing to try. They are an uncomplicated cookie, one that doesn’t take too long to make and that I don’t have to stress about as far as clean up is concerned.
I know. You don’t have to tell me. I’m a horrible person.
I said (a while ago) that I’d have this cooking adventure up for all of you to enjoy and…well…it’s taken this long.
Earlier in February, I decided I was going to embark on a hobby of candy-making. I didn’t have just any candy in mind, though. I wanted to create a somewhat healthier (if that’s even possible) replica of the beloved Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup. And I succeeded. Ish. I made some lovely almond butter cups which were pretty popular with my coworkers, and some white chocolate almond butter cups which my family adored.
Eventually, I grew bored with the almond butter (I still have LOADS of it left) and decided to try a different filling. I happened to have a lovely bag of shredded coconut just waiting to be used. Combining it with some sweetened condensed milk created a nice textured filling for these sweet treats. They taste pretty similar to the Mounds candy, the one that I didn’t appreciate until I was much older. Believe me, once you try these decadent bites of coconut heaven, you’ll be howling for some of your own.
HAPPY NEW YEAR (a bit late) and welcome to the Monstrum Chronicles blog! Here’s hoping you all had a fun and festive holiday season and a wonderful start to the new year. 2016 promises to be an exciting year! I’m looking forward to making a few changes in my writing career as well as here at the blog and in my personal life as well.
First off, I would honestly like to be able to attend a few more shows this year in lieu of the fact that they are the best way to get my books into reader’s hands. 2nd, I’d like to focus on trying to market my books to a few more brick and mortar businesses here in Maine. I’ve been a salesperson for several years and yet it’s always so much harder when you are trying to sell something you’ve created yourself. This fear has made it difficult for me to take those steps forward. Not this year though. I’m going to give it my all here.
Read on to find out what 2016 has in store for the Monstrum Chronicles blog!
Ooo-de-lally! We’re back for our final Literary Cooking Adventure of 2015. Embarking to the wilds of Sherwood Forest on this culinary tribute to Howard Pyle’s The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood, I decided to attempt a family recipe for a scrumptious cranberry coffee cake. It’s by far one of my favorite things to eat and by the end of the video, your mouth will be watering. You’ll want to try this one yourself!
Of course, this wouldn’t be a Cooking Adventure without some kind of catastrophe. Thankfully, there was nothing major. My only true aggravation came while trying to measure the baking soda. I lost my measuring spoon and resorted to using a regular spoon…which doesn’t fit into the baking soda box. Lots of cursing ensued and I ended up shaking the box like it was a maraca. As such, there might have been some extra baking soda and that might have made the cake a bit more solid than it was supposed to be. No matter.
It still tasted delicious!
Want to make this cranberry coffee cake for Christmas morning? Scroll down to see the magic!
This week we take on the dastardly Illuminati as we pay tribute to Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons. I attempt to create a baking decadence that (for all in intents and purposes) probably shouldn’t exist. It’s called the Heaven and Hell Cake. A mouthwatering combination of Angel Food cake layers with Devil Food Cake layers. Smothered in between is an unbelievably delicious peanut butter ganache and dripped over it is a smooth chocolate coating. It has you saying, “Oh my ganache.”
My take on this fine cake was ruined by the angel food cake. This is my second attempt trying to make it and I once again failed…miserably. But I had to complete it so I resorted to the wonderful Hannaford’s Supermarket to supply me with a cake that was actually edible.
Somehow, whenever I try to make angel food cake, I always have the same problem. I get to the point in the recipe where I’m supposed to beat egg whites and sugar together until they form “stiff peaks”. And so I beat, and beat, and beat. I beat the heaven out of those egg whites until they are no longer angelic in the least bit. No stiff peaks form. Ever. When I try to go ahead with the recipe, I end up with this strange marshmallowy concoction of God knows what that isn’t even…real. It’s just a brick of gross goo with a hard crust. Eww.
Basically, what I’m saying is that if you want to try this recipe for yourself, you’re going to want to hop over and check out Whisk Kid for this recipe so that you make it the right way. Because by the end of this video…my cake looks ridiculous, even though it tastes amazing.
Stay tuned for the next Literary Cooking Adventure!
So, here’s the scoop. On this most special Cooking Adventure in tribute of the James Bond series by Ian Fleming… Nothing, I mean, nothing went right from the start. Due to the time change, I forgot all about losing an hour of daylight in the afternoon on the day I was cooking and unfortunately couldn’t finish filming it. Working the next few days in a row ensured that I wouldn’t have time to finish and make it look seamless. On top of all of that, I ran out of batteries in the camera while filming so I had to film a new intro today as well as some last minute scenes.
The flavorful turkey chili promised in the video ended up being very delicious with the exception of the beans. I opted for dried beans instead of canned this time. I ALWAYS get canned. Turns out that there’s a whole process to cooking the beans first before adding them to the chili…or one is supposed to do the entire thing in a crockpot and have it cook for hours upon hours. Because time was rather short, the beans ended up being a bit chewy and I’m not at all proud of that.
Last but certainly not least, I lost the thumb drive with all of the footage on it and spent several hours acting like a crime scene investigator in my own house while I searched for it. Turns out it was in my purse the entire time. Herp a derp.
Because I’m running behind on time once again, and I still have about a billion pages to write on my NaNoWriMo (Book 4 of the Monstrum Chronicles), I will be including a link to the original recipe for this chili. Definitely check it out and if you plan on making it yourself, I’d advise CANS of beans. So much easier for those of us who like easy in the kitchen.
Okay, in all fairness…I didn’t actually make donuts! They were supposed to be donuts but I don’t own a donut baking pan nor can I find one anywhere. So, I used donut batter in a muffin pan and made apple cider …mo-nut/duffin things. But…they’re still really yummy!
This week, we’re celebrating J.K. Rowling’s celebrated Harry Potter series. In this episode, Harry manages to piss off Hedwig who is clearly trying to tell Harry he’s making mistakes while baking. This, in turn, upsets most of the other owls at Hogwarts. Lots of owls in this one. Lots.
I made a couple of substitutions in the video because there were ingredients I didn’t have. The first was substituting pumpkin butter for apple butter. In hindsight, I think apple sauce would have been a better choice, but the pumpkin flavoring gave the muffin an almost gingerbread-y kind of taste and was still delicious. The next substitute was for the sour cream. I used milk which made the batter that much more liquidy. Always stick to sour cream if you can. It keeps them moist. Mine are, unfortunately, beginning to dry out.
Interested to find out how to make these magical duffins? You can find the original recipe over at The Kitchn. Enjoy!
*clears throat* As you can tell, I’m really happy it’s finally autumn. This is my favorite time of the year to bake, do crafty things, and of course write. I decided to kick off the season by trying a different kind of croissant recipe with a square folded style vs. the traditional rolled style.
In this week’s tribute to Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House (which I mistakenly call “The House on Haunted Hill”) I made some Blueberry and Honey Cream croissants. They are extremely easy to make and can be varied to include different fruits (and probably chocolate, too). I’m probably going to end up making a number of them over the next few weeks because they were so delicious!
Check out the recipe below the cut if you want to try it for yourself!
Since I don’t intend to have a Video Cooking Adventure up until later tonight, I thought I might share one of my first cooking disasters with you. This, in my mind, pretty much sealed the deal for me to always have some sort of difficulty in the kitchen. I was still in school, though what age I’m not entirely sure. If I strain my brain hard enough, I think I can remember it being middle school. I did not cook at this time. My sensibilities were that I had parents, they knew how to cook, and my extent of knowledge on cooking was limited to a Home Economics class where we made granola and smoothies. Even so, cooking is really not the point of this particular memory. All I had to do was mix two things together and wait. And I failed.
My dad had asked me if I could stir up some pistachio pudding for him. I quickly found the box in the pantry and read the directions…sort of. I ripped open the package and poured the puce-colored powder into a bowl. Looking back at the directions, I read that I needed to add however many cups of COLD… I didn’t actually read the rest. In my head, the only thing I thought it could possibly mean was water. My rationality was this: on a package of cake or muffin mix or anything like that, I’d never seen anyone say to add cold milk. It just said “milk”. And no one ever asks for cold milk on any instructions! So why go to the trouble of bolding and underlining COLD on the package? Why not just write “milk” and be done with it? But water! Often times recipes call for HOT or COLD water. That made more sense.
And so, I added cold water to the pistachio pudding powder. Pushing it into the fridge to set, I waited in the living room, blindingly ignorant of the mistake I’d just made. When the requisite time had passed, I returned to the fridge and pulled out the bowl, expecting a shimmering chilled pistachio wonder. It was not to be. Instead, a liquid with the color and consistency of swamp water looked up at me. I asked my dad what I could have possibly done wrong and after we determined my mistake, he laughed and I felt like an absolute moron. He still tried to eat it, just so I wouldn’t feel so bad. But pistachio soup on top of vanilla ice cream really isn’t the same.
What’s better than some old classic ragtime and a spicy flavorful chicken dinner? Nothing I tell you! Nothing!
Okay, maybe that was a bit overkill. But this Chili Lime Chicken was pretty damn tasty and relatively easy to make. There were of course a few obstacles here and there, such as the fact that my chicken was frozen, the pan was spitting oil like a cobra spits venom, and my fear of cooking with hot peppers was revisited.
But, in tribute to E.L. Doctorow’s classic novel, Rag Time, I pushed on through the obstacles and emerged victorious with a dish that I’ll most certainly be making in the future. Want to know how to make it for yourself? I’ll bet you do. Scroll on down and check it out! You can find the original recipe at Rasa Malaysia!