Tuesday, March 10, 2009

BIRTHDAY BAKE-OFF (get ready for a long one!)

Yesterday was Jeff's birthday. Happy Birthday!
I succeeded in not getting him the simple gift or baking the cake he'd requested. But I will. I promise.

However, when we spoke after he got to work he did say he would like enchiladas for dinner and to have some friends over for dessert, so I hopped on that in a flash.

I felt like all of the things I made turned out well, so I'm sharing all the recipes with you here.

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First in line was rice pudding from the Angelica Home Kitchen cookbook. I don't know why this simple recipe causes me such distress, but I managed to almost ruin it yet again. Trust me, this recipe as is makes plenty. You don't need to double it. And if you do double it you should just make it twice instead of trying to make a double batch all at once or you'll experience a serious overflow!

Vegan (or not) Rice Pudding (Sorry, this dish is not photogenic, but it is delicious!)

Preheat oven to 300F.

Bring to a boil in a large oven-proof pot (like this):
4 1/2 c. water
3/4 c. maple syrup
1 1/2 c. soy milk (I used cow milk this time due to a soy allergy, but both work.)

Add to pot:
1 tsp. vanilla
1 cinnamon stick

While the liquid is heating, rinse:
1 1/3 c. basmati rice

Measure out:
1/2 c. raisins

Add raisins and rice to hot liquid. Stir. Bake on middle rack of oven, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Chill in the fridge or serve warm. I served it with slightly sweetened whipped cream.

I find this is still sometimes too runny once the rice is done cooking. So, I actually scooped the rice etc. into another bowl with a slotted spoon and got rid of about a cup of extra liquid.

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Item number two:

Time-Warp Lemon Squares (adapted from here.)

These have turned out great repeatedly. I do recommend multiplying the crust ingredients by 1.5. The recipe listed below will reflect this. The linked recipe does not.)

For the crust:
3/8 c. granulated sugar
7 1/2 T margarine (I used butter)
1 1/2 c. all purpose flour (I used 1 c. white and 1/2 c. whole wheat pastry flour)

For the filling:
Prepared equivalent of 3 eggs-substitute (I used Ener-G Egg Replacer)
3/4 c. granulated sugar
zest and juice of 2 fresh, juicy lemons
1 tsp. real vanilla
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/8 tsp. salt
3 T all purpose flour
powdered sugar (optional)

Preheat oven to 350F. Combine crust ingredients and press into 8" x 8" pan. (It will seem really dry and sandy, but it should pack firmly.) Bake for 15 minutes. While baking, beat the egg substitute (follow directions for your brand) until foamy. Add the remainder of the ingredients (through flour) and mix together. Pour over the crust, and bake 30 minutes more, or until set. (Note, linked recipe says 20 minutes, but 30 worked better for me.) Cool. Place in fridge to set for up to one hour. (I think these were in the fridge for probably 5 hours, but they turned out great.)

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Then dinner:

Cheese (and Veggie) Enchiladas (Forgot to photograph in all the cooking and party- prep frenzy.)

I had never made enchiladas before until last night. To my surprise, they were quite easy.

Grate a few cups of cheddar and set it aside. Then sauté an onion and 2 smallish zucchini in some olive oil until soft. When that's pretty much done add a can of pinto beans (drained.) Meanwhile preheat the oven to 350F. Two-by-two warm/soften the corn tortillas on a griddle with a little water sprinkled on them. Pour a puddle of red enchilada sauce (enough to cover the bottom) into a 9"x12" baking dish. (Sweet Creek enchilada sauce was recommended by Jeff's mom. This is not only a local product for us, but it also tasted great.)

When the tortillas are warm and flexible spoon in some of the onion/zuke/bean mixture and a good amount of cheese, roll up and place seam side down in the baking dish. Continue doing this until the dish is full. (I had 10 in my dish with veggie filling left over.) Pour enchilada sauce over the tortillas enough to get everything wet. Top generously with grated cheese, place in the oven and bake for 30-40 minutes or until cheese has browned in parts.

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And one more for good measure!

Lemon Poppy Seed Shortbread Cookies adapted from the ever-popular (in our house at least) Tassajara Cookbook

These cookies really do melt in your mouth.

2 c. unbleached flour
1/4 c. poppy seeds
1/4 c. arrowroot powder
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. salt
1 c. margarine (I used 1/2 c. butter and 1/2 c. coconut oil)
2/3 c. sugar
3 T fresh lemon juice
2 T lemon zest
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 375F. Stir the flour, poppy seeds, arrowroot powder, nutmeg, and salt together. In another bowl, cream the margarine (or butter/coconut combo or other fat,) sugar, lemon juice, lemon zest, and vanilla.

Add the fat/sugar/lemon mixture to the flour mixture and stir until just mixed. Using a table spoon or your fingers scoop the dough onto a greased or parchmented baking sheet. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Makes about 2 1/2 dozen.

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Many times yesterday I thought to myself, "Why in the world are you making so many desserts?" But it was a good thing I did. At 7 o'clock last night our house became party central for the 2.5 to 5 year old crowd... and their parents. Toys, kids, tolerant cats and mamas and daddies were everywhere. We had a great time. I am so glad the last-minute birthday party came together, and that all the treats were well-received and gobbled up. We have no leftovers.

Thanks for the daphne bouquet, Katie et al. It smells and looks so sweet!

I hope you will enjoy trying some of these recipes too!

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