Gyros + Brownies

I know… weird combo, but what can I say ? Oh yah, I’m¬†pregnant. ūüôā¬† So I’m not sure if I told you all, but I received a brand spanking new bread machine for Christmas and have been using it every week to make every kind of bread imaginable.¬† So this week, I was craving greekish food – so obviously pita’s were a good choice.

I scoured the internet to find a noteworthy pita recipe, and I finally found it!

After throwing all the ingredients in the bread maker, about¬†1 1/2 hours later I pulled the dough out and formed it into a “loggish” looking creature.¬† Then, as instructed, I cut it into 8 pieces.¬† Below is my beautiful dough.

Yum, the smell of fresh dough is delish.  So then I began to roll out, estimating the size by what I think of as a typical pita. ((below))

Then, I stuck them directly in the oven @ 500 degrees for exactly 4 minutes.

Look at how perfect they are!  I love easy recipes.

So, all while my dough was rising, I prepared the meat & etc. portion of the meal.  You have to let it marinate and what not, so preparation is key.  This is actually one of those great, prepare the previous evening meals because once its all marinated it only takes 15 minutes to grill up and assemble.

I found a great recipe for gyros off of¬† **A little background to this day of cooking** I was stranded at home due to an abnormal amount of snow in the PNW… which, for any of you who are not familiar, is anything over an inch of accumulation.¬† But no, we really had a bad storm – my backyard saw about 12 inches and it was COLD!

At any rate, here’s a picture of the chicken in all its marinated glory.¬† Slight deviation to the recipe, I didn’t have any lemons, so I used lime juice.¬† It still was delicious, so I figure, success!

Now for the complicated part, Tzatziki.¬† I failed at taking pictures during this segment **SORRY!** mainly because tzatziki¬†is SO time-consuming.¬† I accidentally purchased nonfat¬†yogurt, but still tasted like the tzatziki¬†I’ve¬†had before, so it wasn’t that big of a deal… just took forever to drain all the liquid.¬† Also, I shredded the cucumbers and then squeezed all the excess water out with paper towels.¬† One thing I did do, that I’ll make sure to correct the next time, is that I used too much garlic.¬† Bleh!¬† I did a heavy hand of 3 tsp minced garlic… and it was waaaay¬†to garlicy.¬† So word to the wise, this is not the situation where more is better.

The toppings I decided to use were cherry tomatoes, feta, and red onion.  I seriously think the red onion made the gyro.  It balanced all the flavors perfectly.

My husband asked me why I didn’t put the feta in a more attractive bowl¬†, and my response was, “because why dirty more dishes”.¬† His response, “doesn’t stop you otherwise”.¬† UMMM¬†do you not realize I just slaaaaaaaaaved¬†over a meal for you… pulease.¬† And the kitchen was clean Might.I.Add.¬† ((He’s a little OCD with cleanliness, and thinks I run the dishwasher waaay¬†too much… which could be true, but really, I just made you dinner – be quite!))

And here’s the final product.¬† I will never go back to store-bought¬†pitas.¬† I may by store-bought¬†tzatziki¬†though… To the right is my little boo’s pizza.¬† He’s such a picky eater, so I made him a pita pizza (marinera¬†sauce + mozzarella + chicken ((hidden of course)) + cherry tomato).

Now on to the MOST important part, dessert.¬† While on foodgawker I found a delicious recipe for peanut butter cheesecake brownies (quite a mouthful!).¬† Now this recipe tells you to use BOXED brownies for the bottom half – um no, making brownies are so easy peeps, please just take the 5 minutes to throw the ingredients together.¬† I used this recipe for brownies.¬† And the combo was sinful.¬† One slight deviation that my husband and I both agree on, add more cream cheese.¬† IDK, I’m¬†just not¬†tasting the whole cheesecake portion, I taste peanut butter but no cream cheese.¬† So, i’m thinking if you double the cream cheese to 8 oz instead of 4 you’ll be golden.¬† Another recommendation, refrigerate once the brownies have cooled… the next day they are to die for.¬† I know it’s hard to wait that long, I didn’t.¬† But they do taste better the next day versus right out of the oven.

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Pioneer Man

My husband made the most delicious meal yesterday… So delicious I felt inclined to post the link. We were watching “pioneer woman” on the food network yesterday morning and she started cooking this pork butt and slaw and potatoes au gratin that were absolutely mouth watering. So the husband went to Safeway and picked up all the ingredients. The only change we (or rather HE) made was cooking the pork in the slow cooker on high for 4 hours and low for 2. Oh, and we didn’t do the dessert… But I’m keeping that on the menu for later, as I love her rustic approach to apple pie.

Oh and I almost forgot, I did contribute something… These delicious rosemary pepper rolls. The flavors were off the chart. The only change I made to this recipe was preparing the dough in my bread maker. I LOVE me a bread maker.

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*The Verdict*

So, I did a terrible job telling you all how the cake tasted (you know, the one I made for my GPA’s 80th). It was delicious. Infact, it was so good I ate the leftovers for the following 4 days… which is probably why I gained 3 lbs. Awesomeness. Good thing i’m pregnant.¬† At any rate, the one lesson I learned from this caking experience, is that if you have a deformed cake… don’t use it. You pretty much couldn’t taste the caramel (since the majority had oozed out prior to frosting). Such a bummer, because the taste test of the caramel prior to application was SO YUMMY. Whelp, i’ve learned my lesson, next time i’ll turn on the other oven…

Oh, and here’s a picture of the slice –

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Bake me a cake…

As some of you might have seen a few days ago, I was searching for the perfect combination of chocolate and caramel for my Grandpa’s 80th birthday celebration (which is tonight!). After reviewing all the suggestions, and googling my little heart out, I finally ran across a recipe that made me drool. –> view original recipe here

Chocolate Cake with Fleur De Sel Caramel

Now, as most of you know, I’ve never been one to follow the rules. So I changed things up a bit. First of all, I baked three cakes (9 inch pans) instead of that cutting business the recipe wants you to do.

Yes, the back right cake is slightly deformed. I put it on the bottom rack of my oven that slants… not the most brilliant idea. If I had enlisted more patience, I could have saved myself a lot of trouble.

Next I made the caramel and ganache. The ganache, I followed the directions to the “T”. I used the ghirardelli 60% cocoa chocolate chips. For the caramel, I didn’t have fleur de sel OR light corn syrup. So I substituted dark corn syrup and sea salt, slightly coarse. Both turned out great and more importantly, tasted amazing.

To cool the ganache quickly and get it to the consistency I wanted, I put it in the freezer and mixed it every 20-30 minutes. The caramel – I also stuck in the freezer for about a half an hour and that helped it reach room temperature at the rate I needed it to.

Now for the piping… I don’t know about any of you, but I don’t own any fancy piping tools. Maybe one day, on a whim, i’ll invest. But as of right now I use a make shift version.

Now for the fun part, layering. As I mentioned earlier, I had one deformed cake. Well, I decided to use that one for my middle layer and just ganache the heck out of it to make it stand up straight. It sort of worked, but then the caramel started oozing out. See pictures below for play by play.

So after that loveliness occurred, I had to really work hard to ganache it all in. I kept on running my spatula under hot water to make the ganache spread a little easier. For the most part this worked.

Lastly, I rolled the toasted almonds up the side and then drizzled the remaining caramel on top of the cake. We’ll be eating it this evening to celebrate Grandpa’s 80th – so I’ll let ya know how it tastes. ūüôā

Just for giggles i’ve posted the “background music” to my baking… see picture of child below for meaning of “background music.”

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New Way Ministries

I’m not sure if any of you have heard of New Way Ministries.¬† It’s a transitional home for homeless women and their children.¬† Homeless can be translated in many different ways, but for these women they¬†usually are¬†homeless because of an abusive spouse or boyfriend and/or drug problems.

I’ve always had special interest in situations like this, it’s one¬†cause that really gets to me.¬† Mainly because I believe no woman should ever be in a situation where their significant other is verbally or physically abusing her or her children.¬† A place like New Way Ministries allows the women to live in this home for 6-12 months, depending on the situation.¬† It’s essentially dorm living.¬† They have several rooms with attached bathrooms, and then a communal kitchen and living area.¬† NWM also supplies a day care so the mom’s can find and go to work.¬† However, a lot of these women are in no shape to work.¬† They’ve been so beaten down they don’t even know where to begin.¬† NWM has women come to them that only went through 9th grade and others who have their PhD.¬† NWM gives the women the tools and counseling to get their life back on track.¬† For the women who are succeeding in the program, and proving they are ready to transition back into society, NWM recently added 2nd tier housing.¬† The 2nd tier housing is apartment style living (still within the NWM compound).¬† The women are able to stay in this section for an additional 6-12 months.

New Way Ministries receives women from all over the Unites States, to local women from Whatcom County.¬† At this time, they can only accept a handful of women.¬† They constantly are having to turn away women and children who are in need of a safe haven.¬† Wouldn’t it be awesome if they never had to turn a woman away?

This yearManagement Services Northwest is assisting NWM with their annual benefit dinner and silent auction.¬† What’s my part in all of this, well i’m putting together the marketing material and assisting with the set up and decor – seriously, it’s so fun – I should’ve started this years ago!¬† I am positive that this years benefit is going to be the best yet.¬† Last year there were 400 attendees and this year we’re shooting to max out the NWWF Expo building at 500.¬† It’s going to be a fabulous time, and it’s a free event!¬† Please check it out, and if you’re interested – call and reserve yourself a seat.

Oh, PS we are looking for people to donate items for the silent auction – I know how handy some of you are who do DIY projects at home, have a hobby or business… please give abundantly, it’s for a great cause! ūüôā¬† Contact me directly for more info!

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Okay, I was on Twitter the other day and clicked a link that directed me to my FACEBOOK PAGE!! OMG I was doing so well with my Lent too.¬† I couldn’t believe that after 20+ days, my account was still automatically logging me in.¬† Anywho, I feel super guilty about it – and I didn’t even check my feed.¬† I did however check my inbox (it’s like email right?!).¬† I didn’t respond to any messages because after reading the titles I felt oober guilty and clicked out of the webpage.¬† At any rate, I will keep at it… and even though I had a minor slip up – it’s not like I purposely logged on to my FB account, right? right.

Phew, confession over.

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Let them eat cake!

This week has been extremely busy, on the 6th we celebrated my Husband’s birthday, on the 7th we celebrated my Husband’s birthday again, with family¬†(in conjunction with my MIL & SIL’s).¬† On the 8th we celebrated my Husband’s birthday yet again, with friends… is there a theme here?¬†

Saturday wasn’t about the hubby.¬† A¬†friend, and fellow¬†AKPSI’er,¬†from college was married.¬† I headed to SEA to spend the day with one of my besties (and roommate) from college.¬† We both had nothing to wear to the wedding, so of course we went shopping.¬† We had approximately 3 hours to get what we needed done.¬† With an hour to spare we walked out of Nordstrom with 6 bags and our makeup did – mission accomplished. ūüôā¬†

That left us approximately 30 minutes to get dressed, our hair done, and out the door.¬† We under estimated how long it would take to get to the church – boo.¬† We arrived late, which I loath, but luckily the bride had just walked down the aisle so we were able to sneak in during prayer (Catholic Service).¬† K (my friend who got married) looked absolutely radiant.¬† The chapel where she was married couldn’t have been more perfect.¬† She hired a gospel choir to sing… they sung on the balcony and the sound echoed throughout the chapel, it was perfect.¬† K’s dress was a fabulous ivory strapless gown with lace detail and a satin ribbon tied on the bodice.¬†

K is one of my first college friends to get married, so it was a blast getting to see everyone.  The reception was held at the Eastlake Cafe Рperfect spot for those of you who are looking Рvintage location overlooking the water.  There were u-shaped booth seating, and then tiered down were tables and then tiered down from that, in the middle of the room, was the dance floor.  Beautiful location, fabulous food, great music, and amazing company.

So, my favorite part of this wedding (besides the company) occurred about 9 p.m. when some of the crowed had¬†filtered out.¬†¬†The DJ announced that the bride and groom would like to honor their guests with a…. TACO TRUCK!¬† How clever is that?!¬†¬† Seriously the most delish taco’s ever.

For all of you who are getting married… rent a taco truck.¬† Best. Idea. Ever.

Here’s the only¬†picture taken Sat that wasn’t blurry.¬† I guess that’s what happens when you take the point and shoot with ya…

And to wrap up this post, a little picture of my cutie-patootie.

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