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Celestial Goldfish

October 2014

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Oct. 22nd, 2014

Pusheen Bread

Bready or Not: (Pumpkin) Bread Pudding

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

When I visited home for the week of the 4th of July, I wanted to make something special for my 90-year-old grandma. Like me, her favorite dessert in the world is bread pudding. Therefore, I set out to make her the best possible bread pudding.

Bread Pudding

Complication: her diet is pretty restrictive these days. She can’t eat most fruits. Nor does she need super-sweet toppings that will mess with her blood sugar.

I found a recipe at Will Cook For Smiles that fulfilled a lot of my needs. It produced a small batch. It included pumpkin puree, but in a small amount that I figured could be omitted without destroying the recipe. I could switch in almond milk for my own taste-testing comfort.

Bread Pudding

I also loved that the base recipe used King’s Hawaiian Rolls, which are pretty much the only type of store-bought bread I will still eat. It’s awesome. However, because I was going to be in my hometown, that presented another option. Central California has a large Portuguese community, and there’s an amazing Portuguese bakery less than a mile from my parents’ house. Their sweet bread is one of the most divine things on the planet.

I took my trusty kitchen scale to California so I could measure exactly 12 ounces of sweet bread, the equivalent of a pack of Hawaiian rolls. That ended up being about 2/3 of a loaf.

Bread Pudding

I prepared the bread pudding, tucked it in the fridge, then baked it after lunch. It cooked in exactly 45 minutes. We let it cool awhile before we dug in. I thought it was just about perfect with a drizzle of maple syrup over the top. It was surprisingly light and spongy–not heavy at all like some bread puddings.

Bread Pudding

However, the most important thing was my grandma’s reaction. She declared this to be the best bread pudding she had ever had, and she’s tried quite a few bread puddings in her day. Grandma was thrilled to have this as a dessert and breakfast for a few days, and said it was even better cold straight from the fridge.

I declare this recipe a win.

Bread Pudding

 

Bready or Not: (Pumpkin) Bread Pudding

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups milk (almond milk works!)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup of pumpkin puree, optional
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 12 ounces of sweet bread, such as a pack of King's Hawaiian Rolls or partial loaf of Portuguese sweet bread

Instructions

  1. The day before, set the bread out to go stale, if desired. I prefer chewier bread and leave it as fresh.
  2. Preheat the oven at 350-degrees (if you're baking this promptly). Grease an 8x8 casserole dish. Cut the 12 ounces of bread into chunks. Melt the butter.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the milk, eggs, butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin puree (if using) and vanilla. Whisk until all ingredients are combined.
  4. Spread the bread evenly within the dish. Pour the milk mixture over it. Press the bread in lightly to make sure nothing is dry. (If you're making this ahead of time, cover with foil and set in fridge for several hours.)
  5. Bake for 45-55 minutes, until the knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  6. Serve hot, at room temperature, or straight from the fridge! Top with maple or agave syrup, nuts, whipped cream, caramel sauce, or fruit or nut butter. Anything is good. Plus, leftovers can be chopped into serving-size squares and frozen.
    OM NOM NOM!
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Bread Pudding

Oct. 21st, 2014

Celestial Goldfish

The Arizona Taco Festival

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

Being a writer means a lot of rejection and waiting, but it also carries certain perks. That said, I never expected free gourmet tacos and margaritas to be part of the deal, but by golly, I’ll take it.

I was ambassador to the Arizona Taco Festival last weekend. I have a full write-up of the amazing experience over at the Holy Taco Church.

Oct. 19th, 2014

Clockwork Dagger

Sunday Quote needs to work on her Christmas shopping

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

“Be daring, take on anything. Don’t labor over little cameo works in which every word is to be perfect. Technique holds a reader from sentence to sentence, but only content will stay in his mind.” ~Joyce Carol Oates

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Oct. 17th, 2014

Earthquake

Earthquake Day

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

I will always think of October 17th as earthquake day.

1989. I was nine, at home in Hanford. I was watching the 5 o’clock news on KSEE 24 out of Fresno with my mom and brother. We felt the earth move. We all looked at the hanging lamps; their sway confirmed that an earthquake had indeed occurred. When the news resumed after commercials, Bob Long and the other broadcaster mentioned they had felt something, too. The breaking news quickly shifted to San Francisco.

Today the news is all on Ebola and war and lots of other scary things. A new year, a new fear.

Moving on to more pleasant things…

Coffee Time Romance

J. Kathleen Cheney did a great interview with Jeremy Brett on the Science Fiction and Fantasy Archive at Texas A&M. This is of particular interest to me because I now have two earlier editorial drafts of The Clockwork Dagger at the Texas A&M archive. You can actually go into the Cushing Library and view my materials. As a library geek, this pleases me to no end.

My story “Hatchlings” can be read at Daily Science Fiction. It’s about the cruelty of children and the benefits of pet monsters. This one was inspired by Pokemon.

I also have two old favorites newly published as podcasts:
“Red Dust and Dancing Horses” at Escape Pod
“Reading Time” at Cast of Wonders, a podcast for teens

Also, I have a guest blog and excerpt from The Clockwork Dagger up at Coffee Time Romance.

Oct. 15th, 2014

Leeks!

Bready or Not: Maple Energy Bars and Bites

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

Confession: I’m classifying this as a fall recipe because of the maple, but I make these all year long.

Maple Energy Bars

I know, I know. If you’ve been following me for any length of time, you know how I love maple. I like to make my own breakfast food, too.

Larabars are found in the energy bar section of retailers. They are delicious but are also awfully expensive–if you’re lucky, you might get a bar for a buck on sale. Me? I’m cheap. I make my own versions. I have a chocolate chip cookie dough recipe that I really need to share at some point, but today is about the maple variety that I created on my own.

Maple Energy Bars

To make any homemade Larabar facsimile, you really need two base ingredients: dates and nuts. You switch out the nuts to your taste or based on sales, then change out seasonings to make things fresh and tasty. With the maple flavor, I like using a combo of cashews and pecans, but I’ve also done all cashews. Feel free to do almonds, peanuts, or whatever else you have handy, or combine them all!

I usually make these into a ball shape using my tablespoon scoop, but this time around I made bars. They are a bit more photogenic, I think. And man, do they taste good.

Maple Energy Bars

Bready or Not: Maple Energy Bars and Bites

Ingredients

  • 1 cup chopped medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup cashews
  • 1/2 cup pecans [or combine other nuts to equal 1 cup]
  • 1-2 teaspoons candied ginger, diced (optional, but tasty)
  • sprinkle of cinnamon
  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoon maple flavor
  • water, if needed

Instructions

  1. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients but the water. Pour 1/3 or 1/2 the mix into a high-powered food processor or blender. Pulse. Stir it with a spoon or spatula--it will be thick and gum up the machine. Pour the blended mix out, then add in more of the nut-date blend until everything is mostly blended. It's okay to have some chunks.
  2. Squeeze the mash between your fingers. If it doesn't want to stick together, dribble in water by 1/2 teaspoon until it's cohesive.
  3. You can shape them in two ways. Use a tablespoon scoop to form a ball, then compress them with your hands to tighten. Or, make bars. Place a sling of parchment paper in a bread pan. Pour the mash in. Compress as tightly as you can. Remove using the sling and cut to preferred size.
  4. Keep stored in covered dish or closed baggie in fridge. Makes about 9 tablespoon-sized balls or 7 bars. Will keep for upward of 2 weeks.
  5. OM NOM NOM!
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Maple Energy Bars3_sm

Oct. 13th, 2014

Pusheen Cake

Bonus Bready or Not: Candy-Stuffed Cookie Cups

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

I could accurately name these Salted Browned Butter Candy-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups but that’s a royal pain to even type out, much less say.

Candy-stuffed Cookie Cups

These are what I made for my book release at Changing Hands. My book has almost been out a month (!!!) so I figure it was about time I shared this recipe, as promised.

Candy-stuffed Cookie Cups

I wanted something cookie-like but more durable so that I could make it a few weeks ahead and freeze in a gallon freezer bag.

Candy-stuffed Cookie Cups

I thought, hey! Mini muffin pan cookies would be great! I already had a few such recipes pinned, so I combined them to create something new.

It was important to me that the candy be inside the cup. Since my event was in September in Arizona, I already knew I’d need to transport food in a cooler. Even so, I didn’t want lots of chocolate on the surface where it could melt.

Candy-stuffed Cookie Cups

In my first attempt at this recipe, I used the tablespoon amount called for in one of the base recipes. They baked into these overflowing mushroom shapes. Taste-wise, the combo worked, but they were HUGE.

Therefore, I knew on my next attempt that I wanted to use about a teaspoon of dough for each cup. That’s enough for it to gently round, not overflow.

I also added corn starch to the recipe, which is what I use in my Soft Batch-like recipe. I prefer cookies chewy rather than crispy, and these would get crispy fast.

Candy-stuffed Cookie Cups

Stuff these cups with whatever you want. I used Rolos and mini Milky Ways. Any bite size chocolate candy would work, or caramels or Snak Sak Oreos. Go crazy. Go delicious.

My recipe is a combination of Rolo Chocolate Chip Cookie Cups at Crazy for Crust and Salted Caramel Browned Butter Cookie Cups at Buns in my Oven.

Candy-stuffed Cookie Cups16_sm

Bonus Bready or Not: Candy-Stuffed Cookie Cups

Ingredients

  • 2 sticks butter, browned on stove
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons corn starch
  • 1 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
  • about 50-60 candies or mini cookies (Rolos, Kisses, Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, mini Oreos, etc)
  • sea salt to sprinkle on top

Instructions

  1. Melt butter in saucepan at medium heat. Whisk until it turns deep golden brown, about 5 minutes. Let it cool a few minutes.
  2. Prep the mini muffin pan(s) by generously buttering or using a non-stick spray like Pam. If desired, use mini baking cup liners and spray them.
  3. Preheat oven to 350-degrees. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, salt, and corn starch.
  4. In a large bowl, pour in the white and brown sugar. Add the still-mildly-warm browned butter and mix. Add eggs one at a time followed by vanilla extract. Add the dry ingredients until just combined. Stir in mini chocolate chips.
  5. Have your candy unwrapped or ready at hand. Use a teaspoon scoop to dole out dough. Press a candy inside the dough ball and cover completely. Place in mini muffin pan hole. Once the pan is full, sprinkle sea salt on top.
  6. Bake cookie cups for about 11 minutes. Tops should be golden brown and gently rounded. Let cool in pan for an extended time before removing (especially if they overflow with a mushroom-like effect).
  7. Cookies will keep in the freezer for weeks, or for several days in a covered container at room temperature. Makes about 50-60
  8. OM NOM NOM.
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Candy-stuffed Cookie Cups

Oct. 12th, 2014

Earthquake

Sunday Quote just visited Colorado

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

“It is fashion now in writing to have every man defeated and destroyed. And I do not believe all men are destroyed. I can name a dozen who were not and they are the ones the world lives by.” ~John Steinbeck, Journal of a Novel

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Oct. 10th, 2014

Pusheen Bread

Fall Recipes

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

It’s pumpkin time! And squash and apple time! Plus, it’s legitimately maple time. Last year I gathered my past fall recipes. Now that my recipe content is split between BethCato.com and LiveJournal, I really wanted to post those recipes again. The list now includes the 2013 posts, too.

Pumpkin Pie Bars5_sm

Mini Pumpkin Donuts with Maple Glaze
Pumpkin Snickerdoodles
Pumpkin-Molasses Freezer Pie with Ginger Snap Crust
Maple Spritz Cookies
Pumpkin Pie Bars
Maple Fudge Bites
Pumpkin Gnocchi
Pumpkin Poppers
Overnight Crock Pot Apple Butter
Butternut Squash & Chickpea Salad with Almond Butter Dressing
Pumpkin chocolate chip brownies
Pumpkin-applesauce bundt cake
Candy corn cookies
Halloween party bundt cake (cake mix)
Pumpkin pie
Pumpkin cranberry breakfast cookies
Pumpkin roll bars
Pumpkin spice smoothie

Also, on Pinterest I have a wide array of boards including a Bready or Not board and a pumpkin board where I try to list the amount of puree each recipe calls for. It probably won’t surprise you that I have a devoted space for maple recipes, too.

Oct. 9th, 2014

Celestial Goldfish

Links of the Week

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

I’m still wandering about the internet, though not in the frantic style I was a few weeks ago (thank goodness!). I’ve actually been working on FICTION again. It feels good! These past few days, I tore apart a story I wrote back in August, one I mentally worked on for months because the subject matter intimidated me. That makes me feel even more accomplished now that it’s coming together.

I wrote another new story at the end of September, too. That one is being critiqued right now. I hope to start work on those edits soon. I love this later stage of revisions… once I figure out what I’m doing.

New poetry publications:
- “Grandfather and Granddaughter (Age 5),” Devilfish Review
- “Nisei” and “Seeds” (reprinted), Mythic Delirium Anthology; available in all formats

Socializing in happily geeky ways:
- SF Signal: Words We Learned From Genre Fiction

FOOOOOOOD:
- Over at the Holy Taco Church, I amp up the pumpkin spice goodness with Pumpkin Cheesecake Sopapillas, which use fast ingredients from the store.

Guest blogging about the book:
- “Romance in the Clockwork Dagger” at Reading Between the Wines

Really nice mentions of the book:
- Tor.com: Sleeps With Monsters: Books, Redux by Liz Bourke with a lovely mini review

Oct. 8th, 2014

Pusheen Bread

Bready or Not: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread (2 Loaves)

Originally published at BethCato.com. You can comment here or there.

I declare this recipe to be just about perfect. Oh yeah, it tastes good, too.

Pumpkin Choc Chip Bread

I love recipes that use up a full can of pumpkin. It makes things tidy. No worries about measuring it or stashing a bag in the freezer. Even more, this recipe makes TWO loaves of bread. Serve one, save the rest for later! Or serve them both. These things are easy to eat. They might go fast.

Why, you ask? The bread ends up tender and delicious. Kept chilled in the fridge, it doesn’t get horribly tacky as some pumpkin baked goods do.

I made this using shortening instead of oil, chopped pecans for the nuts, and Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips, but the recipe has a good bit of flexibility. You could even do one loaf plain, the other loaded!

As for me, I looooooove Ghirardelli milk chocolate chips. They are big and luscious, plus I love supporting a California company.

Pumpkin Choc Chip Bread

I found this recipe in my King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion Cookbook but it is also shown on their website as Easy Pumpkin Bread. Take a look at that star rating! I’m not the only one to fall in love with this recipe.

Pumpkin Choc Chip Bread

Bready or Not: Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Bread (2 Loaves)

Ingredients

  • 1 cup vegetable oil or 2/3 cup shortening
  • 2 2/3 cups granulated sugar
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
  • 2/3 cup water
  • 3 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans, optional
  • 1 1/2 cups chocolate chips (could also substitute chopped candied ginger, golden raisins, cranberries, etc)

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease two 9x5 loaf pans.
  2. In a large bowl, beat together the oil/shortening, sugar, eggs, pumpkin, and water.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and vanilla, stirring to combine. Mix in the chips and nuts, or whatever add-ins you choose.
  4. Spoon batter into the prepared pans.
  5. Bake the bread for 60 to 80 minutes, or until a cake tester or toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
  6. Remove the bread from the oven, and cool it on a rack. When it's completely cool, use a knife to loosen the loaves and plop them out. Wrap bread in plastic wrap and store it overnight before serving.
  7. OM NOM NOM!
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Pumpkin Choc Chip Bread

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