Pumpkin Pudding Experiment gone Right!

I’m a horrible experimenter.  I want to make sure anything I make comes out right the first time–knitting, sewing, cooking, what have you–I think it’s because I simply hate waste.  I can’t imagine creating something, especially food, and then not eating it.  So when I experiment I usually look for similar recipes to try out and adapt a tiny bit or I combine several recipes together.  Usually, if it’s not awesome, it’s at least edible, so I can make a show of choking down one or two servings and then pushing the rest off Hub-dubs. 

Not today though.

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Today I has a cooking experiment go amazingly, awesomely right. I am so proud, especially since I played tennis so horribly earlier today the guy playing next to me was flat-out laughing (to my face, which I guess makes it better?).  That, among other things, contributed to my “inadequacy day.”  I hate those days.  They put me in a bad mood and all I want to do is eat my feelings. 

I shall chow down on this. 

THIS is pumpkin pudding–but not the nasty, overpowering, god-awful Jell-o pumpkin pudding I was so excited to try this year.  Seriously.  Horrible.  THIS pumpkin pudding has a delicate pumpkin flavor with just the right amount of spices.  It’s awesome.  I would totally eat any feeling with this–joy, sadness, inadequacy–because let’s face it, who doesn’t love pudding?

And this experiment all came about because I hate waste:

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I had egg yolks to use up.  They came about because I made these cheesy cauliflower tot-things that have been floating around Pinterest.  By the way, they just tasted like cooked cauliflower.  Nothing special, and a waste of four eggs!

I sort-of-kind-of adapted a pudding recipe (I’m not going in totally blind) from my Bible, The America’s Family Test Kitchen Cookbook or whatever it’s called. 

Here’s what you’ll need for the pudding:

3 T. cornstarch

1/4 c. dark brown sugar

1/4 c. granulated sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

3 egg yolks

3 T. butter, melted

3 1/2 c. milk

1/2 c. pumpkin butter

1 tsp. vanilla

 

There are very few pictures for this post, for a couple: a) making pudding is boring–it’s really just a lot of stirring.  b) how can you make pudding look good? It’s custard.  There’s only so many angles you can shoot it from, and, news flash: they all look the same.  Because it’s custard.  So, use your imagination on the bits where there’s no photos. 

First, whisk together the sugars, salt, and cornstarch in a medium saucepan. 

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(ugly photo)

Then, turn the burner on medium-high heat.  Slowly whisk in the butter, milk, egg yolks, and pumpkin butter.  Technically you are supposed to “stir constantly” until it comes to a boil, but you can really get away with “stirring frequently.”

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And yeah, this is the last photo.  Because pudding, although delicious, is BORING. 

Alright, so we’re boiling.  Turn down the heat to medium-low.  NOW you want to stir constantly until the pudding gets nice and thick–you’ll feel it thicken.  When it has thickened (like, 1-4 minutes), take it off the heat and add the vanilla.  Stir well.  Now you have a choice to make: you can either pour it into a dish (or several little dishes) and let it cool, or you can strain it through a mesh strainer to remove any potential little bits of scrambled egg.  Full disclosure: I totally did not strain my pudding.  It looked smooth, so I thought, “what the hell?” Into the dish it went. 

Once you’ve strained (or not, I certainly won’t judge) your pudding, place plastic wrap directly on the top of the pudding, put in the fridge, and let cool several hours. 

How did I know this experiment really, really rules? The Hub-dubs had no idea what I was making, so I took him a spoonful and all but shoved it into his mouth (not an uncommon occurrence around here), and he says, “the flavor is really good, but it tastes awfully…pudding-y.”  Then his eyes lit up a bit when he realized it was pudding.  Then he high-fived me.  anything in the Bank house that gets a high-five is a win. 

One more thing: if you don’t have pumpkin butter, use 1/2 c. pumpkin puree plus some pumpkin pie spice.  I’m sure it will do the trick. 

Now go forth, and eat your feelings of awesomeness!

The Best Non-recipe You’ll ever Make

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Bam.  The holidays can be a busy time, so I’ll keep this short and sweet (which is very unusual for me).  Well, not sweet, but short.  And hot.  Yum. 

1.  Roast your spaghetti squash.  Meanwhile, cook up some chicken.

2.  Once the squash is done, spaghetti-fy it.  Po’ some buffalo sauce all up in there.

3.  Top with chicken.  More buffalo sauce.  Then a good handful of mozz and top with a teeny, tiny (or gobs and gobs) of ranch. 

4.  Om. Nom. Nom. 

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Merry Christmas and a spicy New Year!

Wyoming Cocoa Cakes–A Cookie Recipe

Baking cookies is stressful.  How do you know if the butter is soft enough? What if it’s too soft? How can you tell if the cookies are done (without burning your fingers to touch the edges to see if they’re firm–and what exactly is the desired firmness)? What color is “light-golden brown?” Because in that oven light everything looks golden brown–until it’s burnt to a crisp. 

Despite all that, I had a cookie exchange earlier this week (my first ever!) and I was bound and determined to bake a great cookie. 

That was an experiment, of course.  Because there’s no use in baking for a ton of people unless you use them as your personal guinea pigs. 

And so I give you:

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Wyoming Cocoa Cakes.  Not the greatest name, I know.  Other contenders were “Dirty Snow” and “Cookie Experiment the First.” I do believe the name I chose sounds the most delicious.  And these, my friends, are terribly delicious.  They’re really just a modified Russian Tea Cake recipe.  Here’s what you need to make them:

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2 sticks unsalted butter, softened

1/2 c. powdered sugar

1 tsp vanilla

2 1/4 c. flour

1/4 tsp. salt

2 candy canes, crushed

1/4 tsp. mint extract (optional)

Mint hot chocolate mix, for rolling Image

In a stand mixer, combine the butter, powdered sugar, mint extract, and vanilla.  Mix until thoroughly combined.  Add the salt, flour, and candy canes.  When it gets too difficult to mix, knead it a bit with your hands to incorporate ingredients.  Wrap the dough up and chill for, you know, however long. 

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Here’s another stressful aspect of cookie-baking: how long do I chill the dough? How bad will it be, really, if I skip chilling the dough? (Answer: bad). At any rate, I do not recommend chilling overnight then trying to roll right away.  I tried to do that and ended up cutting little chunks and then rolling those.  I would guess you should pull your dough out a half hour before you want to start rolling. 

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees.  Roll the dough into little balls–about one inch.

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Place the balls on an ungreased baking sheet.  These cookies don’t flatten, so you can place them fairly close together on the pan.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until they are set, but not browned (and what the exact hell does that mean?!)

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This is when I pulled them out, and they were done.  They are supposed to be a bit crumbly, so don’t be sad when yours crumble a bit.  Don’t be as impatient as I was; let them cool before you loosen them from the baking sheet.  Care needs to be taken when loosening them because if there was a candy cane piece on the bottom and it sticks to the pan, you may break the cookie.  Just be careful and they’ll turn out fine. 

When the cookies are still warm, but cool enough to handle, roll them in the hot cocoa mix.

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My original plan was to shake them up in this jar to coat them, but they’re a bit fragile so I didn’t do that–and was just too lazy to pour the mix into a different dish. 

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And just think, they look this good after only one roll around in the coating! Wait until the cookies are completely cool, and then roll them again in the cocoa mix.

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You can present them however you want…but remember, presentation is everything!

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I ran out of Christmas bows.  And by ran out, I mean I apparently don’t have any in the house.  Paper snowflakes it is!

Good luck, and don’t get too stressed out–cookies are delicious even when they’re burnt =)

Happy Holiday!