Monday, October 12, 2009

Oooh, primavera!

I peeked past the curtain this morning, to see the SECOND measurable snowfall of the year. It snowed two days ago, but in our house snow that is gone by dinnertime doesn't count. We call it "cheater snow" because it cheats the kids out of snow-play. Today however, we have "keeper snow." It's past noon, and with over 4 inches already on the ground, there is no sign that it's letting up yet. Our lilacs are doubling over by the weight of the snow, and the maples are quickly changing color while the snow gives them a quick-freeze. Yet the ground temperature is still warm enough that we DON'T have to pull out the shovels - yet. This is warm blanket, hot cocoa & fireplace weather... cold enough to take advantage of the chance for warm snuggles, without having the constant hum of the furnace remind you that the gas-bill will be causing panic attacks in a few weeks.

The kids however, spent the morning chasing each other around with snowballs while I puttered around the kitchen. Snowy days seem to bring out my kitchen-creativity and today was DEFINITELY worth the effort. With hungry kids and a husband home for the day I decided to have a little fun. Yesterday was baking day, so armed with my fuzzy frog-prince slippers to keep my feet toasty, I tackled garlic-cheese toast & pasta primavera.

I have had people ask me how I find the time to bake, and it always confuses me. Anyone who's ever tried those crumbly oversweet bricks of sawdust sold as gluten-free bread would know that it's not worth one tenth the $5 per loaf that's charged. But truly, even without a bread machine it takes me all of 15 minutes to make two loaves of bread. And fresh primavera is even easier. Start with a jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce, and start dumping in chopped veggies & herbs until you're happy with the consistency. Let it simmer for 2 hours - or drop into the crockpot all day, and enjoy. Truly, what could be easier than that? And oh, the smells & flavors... I've gotta go, my garlic toast is calling to me!

Monday, October 5, 2009

New Food Review - Betty Crocker Cupcakes

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am hopelessly addicted to chocolate. I can tell the differences between Mexican, Dutch & Belgian chocolates with my eyes closed. Since going gluten-free I have been on the hunt for the best of the best, in all sorts of rich chocolatey desserts... and I may have found a new favorite for cupcakes.

I know a lot of people say they aren't "cake people" and swear they've outgrown cupcakes. Call it Peter Pan Syndrome, or just a love of all things chocolate but I absolutely love a good chocolate cupcake. It's their not-too-big, not-too-small appeal, with all of that moist crumbly richness that calls to me... and my tummy willingly answers that call with zeal.

Just recently, Betty Crocker came out with four new desserts: chocolate brownies, chocolate-chip cookies, yellow cake, and devils food cake. I've been haunting the baking aisle for these elusive goodies since hearing that they existed, and just this weekend I found them... and came home grinning like a schoolgirl, with a box of the devils food cake riding in my lap. It took everything I had not to rip into the box the minute we got home, but to actually put the other groceries away first, but somehow I managed. Then it was CAKE TIME!

Upon opening the box, I was immediately taken by how dark the mix was. Darker even than straight baking cocoa, this was definitely promising. We whipped them up, and as usual I managed to make the 12 stated on the box PLUS two patty-pan cakes. Twenty minutes later, we could barely resist the smells coming from the oven, and the kids & I sat watching the oven door, as if the gingerbread boy himself was about to leap out & abscond with our goodies. Three minutes later they were done, and we set them out to cool on the counter.

After 30 minutes of intense impatience, they were ready to frost... and devour. They have just the right amount of sponginess, while still retaining a moist quality. There was a slight graininess, but with frosting it's practically unnoticeable. And the chocolate? Dark, baby dark! This is devils food the way I remember it... and haven't been able to enjoy for over 4 years. This was one good cupcake... and I can hardly wait to return to the store; I've already cleared a shelf in the pantry!