Saturday, March 29, 2014

I'm Baaaack

Well, for reasons I can't explain or just choose not to acknowledge consciously lest my psyche suffer, I haven't blogged in AGES. Life changes... and moves at a steady clip... and things happen... and you must move on.

So a fresh start - and I'll mainly hold true to my blog title, DAILY BITE. My addiction to The Food Network + Pinterest + more time at home + Vitamix purchase + trying to eat healthier + great cookbook gifts = renewed love of baking and cooking and more time to experiment.

Over the past year or so, I've tried many new recipes... some came out great, some not so much (I'm still scarred from the horror that was homemade Pop Rocks).  So with that, I definitely have stories and recipes to share... the good, the bad and the ugly.

To start, one of my favorite things to make, sugar cubes. They are so easy to make and can be made adorable (or Sweet & Cute - as I like to call the goodies I sometimes sell at craft sales and at Enjoy Cafe in Honeoye Falls)... by either molding them or putting them in (one of my other addictions) - a Weck jar.

Sugar cubes are insanely easy to make... here's the original recipe.

Handmade Sugar Cubes
1C sugar
1Tbsp water

Use a rubber spatula to mix the sugar and water to a wet sand consistency. Smoosh mixture into mold. Place a piece of parchment over the mold, then a sturdy piece of cardboard, flip the mold, place on table, tap - tap - tap to unmold the cubes.  Let dry a few hours or overnight.

I found these molds from Amazon work best for square cubes. You can also use chocolate molds for more adorable shapes.

If you don't have a mold, you can use an 8x8 pan - smoosh mixture into pan as evenly as possible (yes, this is a challenge), score square cuts by dragging a sharp knife through, let dry a few hours, remove from pan and snap into squares.

From this basic recipe, I experimented to make flavored cubes - substituting in extracts, adding in spices and using brown sugar.

OK - so, I really hope to continue my posts and even add in videos as I bake, cook, and Vitamix!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Sweet & Cute Sugar Cubes

Been making these adorable and delicious sugar cubes - and my Sis has had success selling them at Enjoy Cafe here in Honeoye Falls.
Chai Spice

Packaging (which will change a bit)

Setup at craft fair

Looking forward to selling them at the Mayday Underground craft fair on Nov 2. I will have many in jars, since jars are just the cutest!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cookie Swap: Grandma's Italian Lemon Cookies

I was so excited to be selected to participate in this year's Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap. I've done a Soup Swap before, put on by Jenny, but not an official cookie swap!

This summer I realized I had my Gram's Lemon Cookie recipe. I had overlooked it because I always loved her Chocolate cookies more, but thought I'd give it a go. It turned out to be magical. The lemony goodness brought me back to a time when our family would gather for dinner at Mom's and eat Gram's cookies for dessert as we played Scrabble (ok, we ate them as appetizers too).

My Mom and Gram are both gone now and are deeply, deeply missed, so to have these memories come rushing back was a treat beyond the "treat".

For the cookie swap, I wanted to try a twist, so after reading that cardamom paired well with lemon, I tried a batch with cardamom. I was pleasantly surprised! The cardamom was subtle but enhanced the flavor.  So I sent 6 traditional and 6 Cardamom Lemon Cookies to Fran at Fran's Faves, Lacey at Small Town Cookie, and Adrianne at Bake Not Burn.

The cookies fit nicely in recycled Birchbox boxes. I wrapped the bottom with plastic wrap to keep the cookies fresh and wrapped the top with wrapping paper to make it look festive.

I also had a big red bow and was including some Sweet & Cute sugar cubes... but had a bit of a fiasco with shipping, trying to stay within budget. I found myself removing ribbons and sugar cubes and cramming to fit the small Priority Mail boxes. So I'm sure packages were not the epitome of cookie swap beauty I had envisioned, but hopefully stayed in tact and tasted good!

I also received some awesome cookies from Mercedes at Satisfy My Sweet Tooth, Amanda at Culinary Quirks, and Rosie (also my Gram's name!!) at ForkPenMouth. They were all adorable and delicious! Thank you Ladies!
Here is my Gram's recipe. It is the opposite of exact, but I'm lucky she at least could provide me something to go by, because after making them for 50+ years, she did not follow a recipe!

Grandma Rosie's Italian Lemon Cookies
1/3 cup oil
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup milk
1 egg
2 tsp baking powder
2 tsp lemon extract
~ 1 1/4 cup flour

optional: 1 tsp cardamom (Tina's touch)

confectionary sugar, lemon extract, water (should be a bit runny and pretty lemony)

Gram gave me no instructions other than "Roll then shape into circles"...  so I just whisk together the oil, sugar, and milk, then whisk in each of the next ingredients: egg, baking powder, extract, then add in the flour and stir with a rubber spatula, adding more flour as needed until it makes a thick, not too sticky dough. I almost always have to add more flour than the recipe call for.

Roll into ~1" balls and bake at 350ยบ for about 10 minutes, let cool for a couple minutes, then transfer to wire rack.

Once cookies are cool, glaze and add sprinkles if desired - they add a nice crunch.

Once the cookies are dry, eat them, quickly. If not, store them in an airtight container. I save the parchment paper full of glaze runoff and, while eating them standing over the stove, I drag my cookie through to add EXTRA glaze.  It's both a sad and beautiful thing.

It has been a lot of fun to be part of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and I look forward to doing it again next year!

Saturday, December 08, 2012

Sweet and Cute

Getting better with the sugar cubes, packaged some up and sold them last weekend at the South Wedge Holiday Festival.

Everyone really loved tasting the samples except one girl - got "the disgusted face" from her!

Still some learnings - people seemed to prefer the jars with cubes over the larger adorably-molded ones.

Can't wait to try some new flavors - caramel and coconut.

Friday, November 09, 2012

How Sweet it is - Pumpkin Spice Sugar Cubes

I tried my hand at making homemade sugar cubes recently. Mainly because they are adorable, easy to use, and turns out, extremely easy to make.  I am now on a silicone mold-buying spree because the molded ones are exponentially cuter than the squares (but the squares are just as delicious).

Funny, as I decided I wanted to make pumpkin spice cubes, I looked online for a silicone pumpkin candy mold. Found perfect mold, but it was $7 plus shipping, so I skipped it (and made the squares you see in the pics). Then I popped into the dollar store to see what they had - LO AND BEHOLD, the EXACT pumpkin mold for A BUCK - $1.  I danced. The pumpkin cubes came out totes adorbs (I had that phrase, but it is fitting ;)

Here's how to make them if you feel so inclined:

To about 1 cup of white sugar, add about 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (I made my own with this recipe from Dollhouse Bake Shoppe) and about 1 tablespoon water.  You can play with the ratios, make sure it smells pretty pumpkin-spicy and is mushy but not too wet.

You can either smoosh the sugar into silicone molds, pop them out & let them air dry (or bake in the oven at lowest temp for a while) or you can do the squares.

To make sugar cube squares, smoosh the mixture evenly into a pan (I made a double batch and used an 8x8 pan).  Shoot for about 1/2" thickness. Score the mixture into squares by pulling a knife through - otherwise you won't get squares later (size them to your level of sweetness - I like coffee with my sugar, so I made them pretty big). Bake at lowest heat for 30min - 1hr until very dry, then break into squares.

Here are pics of the steps:

That's it, you should get delicious cubes (or pumpkins or any shape you like that is a decent size - not too small or too big) to add to your coffee or tea. You may want to play around with the amount of spice - I've been doing so.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Food TV Maps - A Website to Live By

I live and breathe by the Food Network and the Cooking Channel. I can't get enough of Chopped, Unique Sweets, Eat Street, Unwrapped, Worst Cooks in America, The Next Iron Chef, The Best Thing I Ever Ate and more, so while I was on vacation in Cape Cod this summer, I found myself doing an extensive Google search to see if there were any food spots that had been featured on tv.

With that, I found this fabulous website - Food TV Maps - it maps out by locale spots that have been featured on the various shows.  AAAAHHHH [angels singing] - my new favorite site...

We found that The Cabby Shack Clam Chowdah (yes, that's how it's spelled and pronounced) was featured on "The Best Thing I ever Ate" - chosen by Chef Beau MacMillan - who is from Plymouth.

I don't love chowder, but hubby does, so off we went. Well, after seeing the floating pool of buttery/oily goodness, I had to try it - it looked mouthwatering. WOW! It was delicious. Score!

So with that, I will never leave home without checking Food TV Maps - vacations will be won and lost by this website (whatever that means ;)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

It's Raining Cherry Tomatoes

This year I planted my first square foot garden. I planted peppers, jalapenos, eggplant, watermelon, plum tomatoes and cherry tomatoes.  I also planted spinach and lettuce, which never sprouted... so in their place, Zinnias may bloom before season's end.

Off the bat, we got a nice little crop of jalapenos, which hubby has been adding to his quesadillas. Also a couple cute little eggplants, which turned to mush when I did not cook them fast enough.

And now - cherry tomatoes galore! Hundreds of them. So I did what any normal person would do - googled for tomato recipes. The "Slow Roasted Tomatoes" sounded delicious... and this was the best article: Slow Roasted Tomatoes and 10 things to Do With Them. And BONUS: per this article, cooked tomatoes are better at fighting cancer to boot!

So I cut all the little suckers in half (this took forever, so the 3rd time I made them, I just left them whole and it worked pretty well too)... drizzled them with Olive Oil, sprinkled with some Kosher salt, pepper and threw on some cloves of unpeeled garlic (I used more than 6 as hubby requested extra garlic) and let them scent up the house for about 3 hours. On a second batch, I added some fresh Basil leaves I had also grown - even better!

I put some in a Weck jar because, yes, I have a complete & utter addiction to jars. Put anything in a jar and it's the closest an inanimate object will come to puppy-level cuteness.

Ok, not quite, but still..

The tomatoes came out soooo delicious, a great addition to our pasta.  I plan to slather them on some sliced baguette drizzled with olive oil and lightly toasted and have a fresh and delicious Bruschetta.

Up next... keeping an eye on the two adorable watermelons that are growing in the garden...