Sneak Peek at Tall and Creamy Cheesecake -- Tuesdays with Dorie

(before baking)

Just a quick peek at my cheesecake for TWD...I made it on Monday afternoon and it's resting in the fridge waiting for New Year's Eve :) I used all sour cream (when it gives the option of sour cream or cream) and plan to have a little "top your own cheesecake" station set up at our New Year's party. It rose a lot in the oven but sank back down during cooling. I hope everyone is having a wonderful holiday season and that your cheesecakes turned out perfectly, I can't wait to visit everyone and see all the variations!
Oh, forgot to add I skipped the waterbath -- I've made cheesecakes with and without waterbaths in the past and prefer not to do the waterbath. I don't mind the cracks on top :)

Enjoy your new life Raven!

Raven went off to a new home this weekend. I'd been searching for a place for her for awhile and thanks to my Backyard Chicken forum friends, a connection was made and the search has ended successfully. She will be a Christmas gift for a 5-year-old girl who loves chickens. She already has a white cochin hen and rooster, so Raven should fit right in (unless they notice she's a different color...are chickens that perceptive?). Raven just never felt welcome here and the other hens continually picked on her. She never fought back, and as a result ended up getting her feathers pulled out frequently as she cowered in the corner and let them peck and pluck away.

In the few months she lived with us she was a great surrogate mom to Wynonna, laid exactly two eggs, and was broody once. Hopefully she will have an opportunity to be a mom to her own chicks in her new home.

Raven's 1st egg


Hens venture out

Merry Christmas eve! It's still snowing... Day 11!!! Another two inches has accumulated onto the two feet we already had.

I was so surprised to see Raven outside in the chicken run yesterday morning that I grabbed my camera while still in my p.j's, shoved my bare feet into gardening boots sitting by the back door and trudged out through two feet of snow to snap a few pictures. No one else was very interested in venturing out of the coop, so I lured them with cracked corn... one of their favorite treats. Wynonna was the only one who came completely out of the run to gobble up the goodies.

Hens in snow

Hen in snow

Hens in snow

Butterscotch Puddin' -- Tuesdays with Dorie

Somehow I've managed to keep up with Tuesdays with Dorie during this super busy holiday season, and not much else blog wise. Christmas season at our house with three little ones is more chaotic than usual, but it's a nice chaos. The sights, sounds, and smells of the season, mixed with three very excited members of the three and under club, well, let's just say enough to keep your head spinning :)

The treat of the week for TWD is Real Butterscotch Pudding, picked by Donna of Spatulas, Corkscrews & Suitcases (recipe available at her blog)-- I know lots of people are making pies and other delicious treats with this pudding but we kept it simple and just made pudding. My only change to the ingredient list was to leave out the eggs. Not an egg fan and the cornstarch in this recipe is plenty to thicken the pudding to perfect pudding consistency (try to say that one three times fast!)

I also skipped the food processor, and had no problems with a whisk on the stovetop. We are not big drinkers (more like not drinkers at all) but I have been buying some here and there and sending my husband out for liquors and wines for recipes quite a bit lately and I think we have acquired quite a stocked liqour cabinet. Add to the collection of bottles opened only for a tablespoon or two -- Johnnie Walker Black Label Scotch Whiskey. Here is how our conversation went...
"Honey, can you pick me up some single malt scotch whiskey for a recipe,"
"Which one do you want scotch or whiskey?"
"Scotch whiskey"
"Well they aren't the same thing..."
"According to this recipe you can get scotch whiskey, and I need a strong single malt,"
"Let me see the recipe, you must be reading it wrong,"
Next thing I know my husband arrives home from Sam's Club with a jumbo pack of diapers and $150 worth of various libations we have no idea how to serve or what to do with but that looked like fun. I still don't like the taste of alcohol but if you want a Pama Martini come on over.
I actually really liked this, even warm! My husband thought it tasted too much like alcohol, I told him it only had two tablespoons in the whole thing but he did not like it. My three and one year old loved it, but then I got kind of paranoid about there being alcohol in it and gave them some yogurt instead. Happy holidays!

Portland gets blasted!

It's been snowing here for over a week. First we had snow, then more snow, then ice and now more snow. There's an accumulation of over a foot and even more is expected. It may not begin to melt until Christmas day. The cookies are baked, gifts have been purchased and wrapped... now we see what this weather does. With many family members snowbound and some without power or water, we may be having a very quiet holiday. Many businesses and retail stores are closed. Chains are required in the Portland metropolitan area. My husband unburied the Suburban today to rescue some friends who are without power at their house. Bus service in our area was canceled. As a panic reflex, I cooked. I made a few extra meals and we delivered dinner to my parents who are housebound nearby. So far our power has stayed on, and we're warm and cozy and very grateful.

This is the view from our front porch yesterday before any foot traffic made tracks...
Where did the stairs go?

Disappearing stairs

Isabel is all bundled up and ready to take the trek up the hill to where we parked the car...

Isabel in the snow

Fresh Fettuccine Alfredo -- Tyler Florence Fridays

This week for Tyler Florence Fridays I took a chance and tried Tyler's take on one of my favorite dishes ever -- fettuccine alfredo! I rarely make this because it's so indulgent but it was totally worth it! I've tried tons of alfredo recipes over the years and have never really settled on a favorite recipe, well, I think I now have with this one! It was perfectly creamy, perfectly cheesy, not clumpy, not overdone with garlic or nutmeg -- a little of which is sometimes nice, but this one was just plain perfect. Sorry about the picture though, I didn't garnish with fresh parsley or make it fancy at all -- it was just a fun little dinner for the kiddos and me while hubby was working late.
This was a two part recipe, the pasta and the sauce. The pasta recipe I did in my Lello Pasta Master 3000 with the "tagliatella media" (small fettuccine) extrusion disc. This wonderful pasta maker was a gift for my birthday last summer, I'm such a lucky girl! I've used it a few times and this was the first time I've used a pasta recipe that wasn't in the instruction manual. I loved it! Tyler was right on and I can't wait to use this recipe again, next time I think I will try half semolina flour, which I haven't had a chance to try yet, but have waiting in the pantry.

The only slight problem I had was that since I made 'small fettuccine' I didn't even think to decrease the cooking time, so at 3 minutes my pasta was done slightly more than I like it. Oh-well. I will know better next time, but I'm sure if I had made a bigger fettuccine 3 minutes would probably have been perfect.

Tyler Florence's Fettuccine Alfredo
Pasta Dough

3 cups flour or unbleached all-purpose, plus more for dusting
1 teaspoon salt
3 eggs plus 2 yolks
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tablespoon
1 tablespoon water
Cornmeal, for dusting (did not use)

To make pasta dough: Combine the flour and salt; shape into a mound on your work surface and make a well in the center. Add whole eggs, yolks, and 1 tablespoon olive oil to the well and lightly beat with a fork. Gradually draw in the flour from the inside wall of the well in a circular motion. Use 1 hand for mixing and the other to protect the outer wall. Continue to incorporate all the flour until it forms a ball. Knead and fold the dough until elastic and smooth, this should take about 10 minutes. Brush the surface with remaining olive oil and wrap the dough in plastic wrap; let rest for about 30 minutes to allow the gluten to relax. Divide the ball of dough in small sections, cover and reserve the dough you are not immediately using to prevent it from drying out. Form the dough into a rectangle and roll it through the pasta machine, 2 or 3 times, at widest setting. Pull and stretch the sheet of dough with the palm of your hand as it emerges from the rollers. Reduce the setting and crank dough through again, 2 or 3 times. Continue tightening and rolling until the sheet is about 1/4-inch thick. Keep in mind, overly thick pasta tastes gummy. Cut the long sheet into workable 18-inch pieces. Now, using the fettuccine cutting attachment, run the sheets through the cutting slot. Dust the noodles and a baking sheet with cornmeal. Coil the strands into a nest. Allow to dry for about 10 minutes before cooking.
Alfredo Sauce

1 pint (2 cups) heavy cream
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Freshly cracked black pepper (I skipped this, not a pepper fan)

To prepare alfredo sauce: Heat heavy cream over low-medium heat in a deep saute pan. Add butter and whisk gently to melt. Sprinkle in cheese and stir to incorporate.
In a large stockpot, cook pasta in plenty of boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Quickly drain the pasta and add it to the saute pan, gently toss the noodles to coat in the alfredo. Transfer pasta to a warm serving bowl. Top with more grated cheese and chopped parsley. Serve immediately.

Little Rose Faery

I bought some more of the beautiful rose velvet fabric I use normaly for the Rosebud Dolls. I just like the colour and softness of this special fabric so much, so I decided to make some more cuddly little rose´ friends.
This little Rose Faery has long hair which is made from a soft doll mohair yarn, every single hair is hand stitched and knotted.

Special treats on a cold morning...

Wynonna, our golden-laced wyandotte, was the first brave hen to chow down on the warm oatmeal with raisins I served them in the coop this morning. Still only 18 degrees here last night.

"I should receive such treatment!" was my husband's response.

chicken treats

Buttery Lingonberry Jam Cookies -- Tuesdays with Dorie

Thank you to Heather of Randomosity and the Girl who chose Buttery Jam Cookies as our TWD treat of the week! These were wonderful and probably our family favorite cookie that we've tried so far in Dorie's book. I baked at 350 (my standard for cookies) instead of 375 and decided to roll the cookies into little balls and then flatted them a little before baking. I did my first sheet as a drop cookie and they looked more like jagged drop biscuits and didn't spread at all. You can see in the picture below the ones on the left were the rolled ones. They were really easy to roll so that was a plus.

Here is a shot of the bottoms, which ended up nicely browned even though the top of the cookie was rather pale. Some powdered sugar really dressed these little gems up.

I used lingonberry jam -- a favorite of mine that I first had in Sweden years ago, and now I must have in my pantry or fridge at all times :)

I know that of all the TWD cookies we've tried so far these will probably be made most often since they are easy and the flavor is wonderful, I love the fruity sweetness from the jam and you can't really put your finger on the ginger but it gives it a little kick. Can't wait to try another batch with a different jam!

BRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!'s cold!!! 17 degrees here last night, with high temps hovering around freezing expected for the next week.

The chickens have been fine so far. Everyone's been hanging out inside the coop since Saturday night. So far I've been able to keep their water thawed by placing it directly under the red light. The best part is they all seem to be getting along. Our black cochin Raven, who the other hens were picking on, walks freely among them now--yeah!

No school today! Plenty of hot chocolate and I Love Lucy...

hot cocoa

Winter arrived!

Just as predicted...a rare thing in P-town...SNOW! Everyone in our house was very excited...everyone outside not so thrilled!

One of our excited inside animals... with the chickens all cooped up, Bailey has a day off from her chicken tending duties

border collie in the snow

coop in the snow

My husband came up with this great solution to keeping the chicken's water thawed, but they won't venture out of the coop to drink it. He says they'll come out when they have to and won't let themselves dehydrate. I put their food inside the coop.

keeping water thawed

and one of our not so thrilled animals... Nelly, our sweet little sebright

Nellie stays in the coop

Lavender Baby

This little Lavender baby is made from a extra soft lavender coloured cotton velvet fabrik.
It is perfect for very young babies since it has no hair at all and a soft and cuddley jelly bag cap.

Winter is headed our way... least that's what we've heard for the last several days. After much discussion and contemplation, I decided I would NOT heat the coop this year. After all, I've heard from people in Alaska with temperatures well below zero, who never heat their coops. Our hens seem to be doing just fine huddling together if necessary. We did have fresh eggs last winter when we heated the coop, but our hens stopped laying way back in August, so it seems unlikely they'll lay again until spring.

But the temperatures are expected to dip into the teens for several days with snow predicted for tomorrow. So just before dark, after cleaning out the coop and providing my hens with fresh food and water, I ran an extension cord out to the coop and clamped a light fixture with a red light bulb onto their perch. I find the red glow coming from their window very comforting.

The girls were all cozy and snug when I closed them in tonight...

New Rosebud Doll

This is a new Rosebud I made for Shelley

Ricotta Pancakes with Roasted Apples -- Tyler Florence Fridays

This week for Tyler Florence Fridays I tried Tyler's Ricotta Pancakes with Roasted Golden Delicious Apples and Roasted Prosciutto. I left out the prosciutto, of course ;)

Ricotta Pancakes with Roasted Apples

4 Golden Delicious apples
1/2 stick butter, melted
1/4 cup maple syrup

For the pancakes

2 cups ricotta
4 large eggs, separated
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
1 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
Pinch salt
Butter, for cooking
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting, optional
1 cup maple syrup, warmed on stove-top

For the topping:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut each apple into thirds, remove the cheeks and discard the core. Slice each piece into 4 and toss with butter and maple syrup in a large bowl. Transfer to a roasting pan and place in the oven. Roast the apples until they are fork-tender and slightly caramelized on the top, about 30 to 45 minutes depending on ripeness of the fruit.

here are the apples before roasting

Combine the ricotta, egg yolks, buttermilk, lemon juice, and lemon zest in a large mixing bowl. Sift the dry ingredients: flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together into the ricotta mixture and stir until fully combined. In a separate bowl whisk the egg whites until stiff peaks form and then gently fold into the batter.

Heat a large nonstick pan over medium heat and add a little butter (I did the pancakes on a griddle). Cook 2 to 3 pancakes at a time using a 6-ounce ladle or measuring cup to pour the batter into the pan. The trick to perfect round pancakes to carefully pour all the batter in the same spot and let it roll out to a complete circle. Cook the pancakes on 1 side until they set.

When small bubbles appear on the uncooked surface, flip the pancakes and cook until golden on both sides, about 6 minutes. Keep the pancakes on a plate set at the back of the stove under a dry towel to keep warm while you make the rest. To serve, lay the pancakes on a plate and dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve with roasted apples and warm maple syrup.

We are big pancake fans in this family! I love to try new recipes for pancakes, but my kids and husband have a favorite recipe I make and are not quite as enthuastic as I am about trying new recipes. These pancakes were okay, I liked them, not a favorite, but my husband and the kids weren't impressed. I'd say these are more souffle-ish grown-up style pancakes that my family just wasn't expecting. Oh-well. The apples were nice but didn't get browned or caramelized a little like I'd expected even though I baked them the entire time. All in all it was a nice dish that was a touch more work than the average pancake breakfast.

Daughter's first animated video...

...the fascination with all things hamster continues.

All-Occasion Sugar Cookie Bars for Tuesdays with Dorie -- and -- Orange Rum Pizzelles for Pizzelle Party Week

Holiday baking is now in full swing! What fun! This week for Tuesdays with Dorie we took a chance with "Grandma’s All-Occasion Sugar Cookies" picked by Ulrike of K├╝chenlatein -- you can visit her website for the recipe or find it in Dorie's book, Baking From My Home To Yours.

I made these twice, the first time around I had planned to use these as out cut-out Christmastime cookies, complete with frosting and sprinkles and lots of cute shapes. We did a trial run with a few shapes...

and found that they were really difficult to roll out, even after chilling. Totally impossible to roll, cut, and transfer to a baking sheet, so I tried to roll them out on the cookie sheet and then pull the excess dough up around them and just bake the shapes. Didn't really work out that well. So for the rest of the dough I figured I'd do the 'roll and slice' method -- then continue with the frosting and sprinkles, for the kids. Here they are after baking, we taste tested one and they taste nice but are not the kind of cookies I imagined they'd be. I love thick, soft, chewy sugar cookies and these were more dense, crunchy sugar cookies. We didn't end up frosting them, but between my husband and the kids this small batch of cookies lasted barely more than a day -- yikes! I would call these more 'butter cookies' than 'sugar cookies' -- almost like a shortbread.

Which brings me to my second batch of these cookies -- I hadn't had a chance to try my new 12 Days Of Christmas shortbread pan (by Chicago Metallic), and thought these would be perfect to give it a go. The recipe as written made just enough to fit into the pan, but the shapes didn't turn out too well, probably because I had a tough time smooshing the cookie dough down in there...

Good news is that the pan performed beautifully and released the cookies with no problem. I can't wait to try this pan again with an actual shortbread recipe :)

What I ended up with were sugar cookie bars and they ended up being amazing! Go figure -- we thought these turned out much better than the cookies from the same dough. The only change I made to the recipe the second time around was to add a whole second egg, rather than just a second egg yolk.

Aren't the delicious looking?

That's all for TWD this week, but I do have another cookie to share, yesterday I started Pizzelle Party Week here at Nummy Kitchen, and today I have a recipe for...
Orange Rum Pizzelles
3 eggs
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2 teaspoons rum
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1/2 cup melted and cooled butter
Juice of one orange -- about 1/4 cup
Sift together flour and baking powder in small bowl. In medium bowl whisk together eggs and sugar. Add cooled melted butter, rum, orange juice and zest. Slowly whisk in flour. Drop by tablespoons onto pizzelle iron and bake for about 30 seconds -- depending on your pizzelle maker.
Love that orange zest!
The pizzelle maker I'm sharing today is a Salton Holiday Pizzelle maker from the late 1990s. It makes two pizzelles at a time and each has two different holiday designs, a santa face and a Christmas tree, and holly berries and a deer. The pizzelle designs are also available on a pizzelle maker made by Windmere, they are the exact same plates on the inside, but the Windmere pizzelle press is white and the Salton model is black.
Yes, that's Jimmy Buffett's Christmas Island CD off to the left side :) My husband loves to laugh at me as I dance around the house to Christmas music from October - January. Sometimes I have to break out a Christmas CD in July because I miss the holidays but don't tell anyone.

Happy Holiday Baking!