Martha Mondays: 1/25

January 19, 2010

The pick for Martha Mondays for 1/25 as chosen by Maryann at Stirrin’ It Up is Maple Granola (page 24 of Feb Martha Stewart Living – let me know if you need the recipe). This should be a fun one to try.


Martha Mondays: Lemon Souffle

January 18, 2010

This week’s Martha Mondays was chosen by me. I’ve never made a dessert souffle before. I do have a recipe for a broccoli cheese souffle I make occasionally.

Martha has a recipe for lemon souffle on the back page of January Living. The recipe says it feeds six. I cut it in half and it was plenty for 4 people.

I started by mixing 1 tbsp lemon zest with 1 tbsp flour, 4 yolks and 1 tbsp sugar. I boiled 1/2 cup milk then whisked it in to the yolk mixture. Next I cooked it until it thickened, then I strained it and added 1 tbsp butter and 1/8 cup plus 1 tbsp lemon juice.  The next step was to beat 5 egg whites until foamy and add 1/4 cup and 1 tbsp sugar.  I worked at those until I had stiff peaks, then I folded it with the yolk mix. Martha says to butter and dust your ramekins with powdered sugar. I used 4 pyrex custard cups which were the perfect size. I baked at 375 for 16 minutes as directed, but they weren’t quite done, so I gave them about another 3 minutes. When they came out, I dusted the tops with more powdered sugar.

This was easier to make than I expected. My broccoli souffle recipe requires a water bath, but none was needed for this.  You always hear about souffles falling and how delicate they are, but this seemed pretty sturdy to me.

Everyone enjoyed this. Dude Martha said he wants me to make it for his birthday. I thought it was a little eggy tasting – too much like scrambled eggs. I also thought it needed more lemon flavor, so I would use more zest and juice next time. So, with some tweaking, I would make this again. And I’m no longer afraid of dessert souffles.

If you made this, post and let me know how it went!

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A Personal Note: Good News

January 16, 2010

Thanks to all of you who expressed concern (and sent good wishes!) about ongoing family medical issues. For the second time in two months, we had a false positive radiology reading. First it happened to me in December – the ER outsourced the reading of a CT scan at night overseas and they sent me home telling me I had a mass that was likely cancerous. The CT was reread in the morning by a hospital radiologist who determined it was simply a burst ovarian cyst. This week another family member was told there was a pancreatic cyst on an ultrasound with all sorts of horrible possibilities. A CT then showed everything was completely normal. Whew. We’re all relieved and completely exhausted. On the one hand, of course I want radiologists to identify possible problems, but gosh, I am so sick of being alarmed and panicked over what turns out to be absolutely nothing. I wish there was a way these folks could be a little more careful.

So, I’m scraping myself off the floor, taking a deep breath, and moving forward. In other good news, this has helped me to identify a toxic person in my life – a friend who was intent on seeing only the negatives in every situation. This opened my eyes to that and I feel like a weight has been lifted. I have a whole new positive outlook on life. It has also made me realize I need to widen my circle of friends.

I just got the February Martha Stewart Living in the mail and I am so excited by it! There are lots of recipes I want to try as well as some crafts (and it is rare for me to get excited about crafts!).  I think the next couple of weeks are going to be fun as I try some things in the magazine and share it with all of you.  Thanks again to everyone who supported me throughout all of this. Onward and upward!


MS Cupcake Club: Coconut Cupcakes

January 15, 2010

Can I be honest here? I am not a fan of coconut. But I knew my son would enjoy this, as would Mr. MarthaandMe’s office, so I made Martha’s Coconut Cupcakes, from her cupcake book, as part of the MS Cupcake Club. The cupcake part wasn’t a problem (once I threw myself on the mercy of the grocery store customer service desk to please locate the unsweetened coconut milk – it ended up being in the Thai section but they didn’t have unsweetened so I bought “lite”), but the frosting just about killed me. How hard can frosting be? Apparently quite challenging. First of all, let me explain I was not completely together as I made this. I had just read an ultrasound report regarding an immediate family member and was waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for a call from a Dr. I thought baking would distract me. Clearly, I was not together enough to do this.

I’ve made Martha’s 7 minute frosting before without a problem, but this time I just couldn’t do it. First of all, I thought I would experiment and see if I could use white Egg Beaters (not the yellow kind that are supposed to substitute for eggs)  instead of egg whites. That was a failure, so I got out the eggs. Somehow I got yolk mixed in with the whites and had to throw it all out. So for the third batch, I had the whites in the bowl and was mixing them. The sugar was boiling and was almost to the temp I needed. Then the phone rang. I was waiting for the Dr so I turned it off and answered it. Not the Dr. I tried again, heating it up and beating the eggs and just when I reached the right temp, you guessed it, the phone rang AGAIN. And again, not the Dr. So I heated it up a third time and this time successfully got it mixed into the egg whites. No surprise, of course, that this was just a bowl of liquid glop. It never set up as frosting. I finally gave up (really, I wanted to hurl it across the kitchen but I restrained myself). I dipped the tops of the cupcakes in the frosting liquid and then pressed the tops into the coconut. I got enough frosting to at least get the coconut to stick.

They actually look pretty good I think. I did choke a bite down just to sample this. It didn’t taste much like coconut (once I scraped the flaked coconut off the top). So that is my tale of the coconut cupcakes!

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Martha Didn’t Invite Me

January 14, 2010

Since several people have emailed me privately about this, I thought I would post about it. Today on the Martha Stewart Show, Martha did an entire show about blogging. She filled the audience with bloggers and had guests who are bloggers. Of course she included her daughter, Alexis, and Jennifer Koppelman Hutt from the Whatever show, but she also invited Andrew Ritchie of Martha Moments and Jeff Blumenkrantz from Jeff and Martha to be guests on the show. I hope you caught the show – if not check out Andrew’s and Jeff’s two blogs, which are simply wonderful.

Now let me answer the questions folks are emailing me about. No, I was not invited and no, I’m not upset nor surprised! I tend to be quite frank about how my Martha projects go and I suspect the MSLO folks who snooped around my blog felt I was not positive enough about Martha in general. Sorry Martha! As I’ve said many times, I have incredible respect for Martha. She is a truly amazing businesswoman and creative person. She has more talent in her little finger than I’ll ever have. That said, my project is about trying out Martha projects and trying to fit them into my life. I’m a regular gal (mom, wife, daughter, friend, writer) who is searching for inspiration and a little oomph. I’m all about honesty here. Some Martha things work, some don’t.  So, I’m not surprised I wasn’t asked and really it’s ok! I think it was great Martha did a show on blogging (although isn’t it funny that she really doesn’t actually blog – she just writes it and has an IT guy who has to post it and manage the blog – in Martha’s life there is always someone to do mundane tasks for you) and I am thrilled to see Andrew and Jeff get publicity for their blogs.


Potato Gratin

January 14, 2010

I recently tried a potato gratin from Everyday Food, but when another one turned up in January Living, I had to give it a go. I swore just about a week or two ago that I never wanted to eat another potato after eating them at every holiday meal and gathering we went to, but apparently I’ve recovered from that.

This gratin was pretty easy. I peeled and sliced about 2 and a half pounds of white potatoes. I rubbed the baking dish with a garlic clove (although I never really taste the garlic when I do this, so I wonder if it really has any impact), and boiled 1 and a half cups of cream, 1 cup milk, 1/4 tsp nutmeg and salt together.  I mixed this with the potatoes and put them in a baking dish, smoothing the potatoes out. On top, I added 3 oz Gruyere cheese. Martha says to bake for an hour and 15 minutes. By about 50 minutes, this was looking quite brown. The rest of my dinner wasn’t ready, so I turned the oven off and let it sit. Then about 10 minutes before we were ready to eat, I turned it back on. In the time that it rested, it set up quite nicely. When I turned the oven off it was still very liquid looking. When I took it out of the oven it had just the right amount of liquid to potatoes.

I really liked this and would make it again. It’s simple and somehow has more flavor than it should, given there are hardly any ingredients.

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Chicken, Ginger and Mango in Parchment

January 13, 2010

Parchment again? Yup. I got a lot of comments when I made salmon in parchment. I was so happy with it, that I was excited to try Chicken, Ginger and Mango in Parchment from Jan/Feb Everyday Food.

I think I am in love with parchment paper cooking. This was so easy. You cut up a mango, cut chicken breasts in half (so they are thinner) and use one cutlet per packet, make matchsticks from an inch of peeled ginger, toss in some cilantro, salt and pepper and a dash of olive oil and wrap it all in parchment (just fold it over and twist the ends) and stick it in the oven for 20 minutes at 375. Done! You serve 4 people. No baking dish to clean up, so saute pan. Truly magnificent.

And this was so flavorful! We squeezed lime on it when eating. It was tropical and bright and was a wonderful bright dish to have on a cold winter night. I am a huge fan of this dish and am going to make it again and again. I served it with some rice and another vegetable. Truly fabulous.

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Beef Rolls on a Hard Night

January 12, 2010

Although I had hoped that 2010 would be a drama-less year for us, we’ve already started out with a few medical issues hanging over our head. Hopefully everything will turn out to be minor, but I would appreciate your good thoughts until we get some answers from upcoming tests. I had a hard day after learning about the latest possible medical complication and after allowing myself time to stew and worry, I pulled myself up by my bootstraps and decided keeping busy was the best plan. Fortunately, there was lots to keep me busy. First we put away all the Christmas decorations (and considering it usually takes an entire weekend to get them up, getting them down in a day was an accomplishment). Once that ginormous task was done, I piddled around the house doing laundry and other household tasks. Mr. MarthaAndMe turned on the tv and my favorite movie of all time (Same Time Next Year with Ellen Burstyn and Alan Alda) was on.  We watched the last half of it and I had a good cry, which I always do with that movie,but which was especially cathartic that day.

Then it was time to make some dinner. I felt unmotivated, but knew I had some sliced top round in the freezer, which I bought to make Martha’s Beef Rolls with Spring Salad. So I got them out and got to work. I was leery of this recipe because I was afraid the beef was going to be tough. I also had to get a little creative. Mr. MarthaAndMe and I had the beef rolls as described in the recipe (sans salad – I made a pasta with broccoli in it instead), but Dude Martha doesn’t like cheese, so I left that out of his. Teen Martha doesn’t like peppers, so I made hers with just cheese.

These took forever to cook. Finally I ended up covering it to get it cook quicker, but it was still almost too pink inside for my tastes.

Yes, I just dumped these on a plate and did not make it look pretty – some days just getting food on the table is an accomplishment.

As for taste, it was ok. I thought the beef was a little tough, especially at the edges. I liked the peppers and onion and cheese. It was kind of like a cheesesteak in a way. It’s hard to make these without the cheese oozing out all over the place, unfortunately. It was fine, but I wasn’t wild about it. I probably wouldn’t make this again.

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Martha Mondays: 1/18

January 12, 2010

Today’s scheduled Martha Mondays selector has gone AWOL, so I’m making the pick this week.  Let’s make Lemon Souffles from the last page of January Martha Stewart Living. If you need the recipe, let me know.


Martha Mondays: Mercury Glass

January 11, 2010

Today’s Martha Mondays project was chosen by Teresa at Homemade Iowa Life. The project is homemade mercury glass, from page of January Martha Stewart Living.

I love mercury glass, so this was exciting. Martha makes it sounds very simple (of course! It’s all simple to Martha). The first hurdle was buying what I needed. I bought a very inexpensive glass vase for $1.99. Finding the mirror paint was a problem. Martha references Krylon.com, however there wasn’t time to order this. I scoured local craft and home improvement stores. None of them had Krylon mirror paint (or looking glass paint, as it seems to say on the bottle in the photo in the magazine). I ended up buying chrome paint, which is close, but obviously not the same thing. Sigh. I paid $3.99 for a small size can of this.

Mr. MarthaAndMe assisted with this project as always. We wrapped paper around the vase and taped it. Then we sprayed the inside with water and next with the spray paint. We let it sit upside down on a drying rack overnight.

I removed the paper the next morning. It did do what it was supposed to, which is mostly cover the inside but not completely. However, I could definitely tell this was chrome, not mirror paint. If I had had mirror paint, I think the results would have been great. As it is, it’s just ok. So I’ll give this project a thumbs up, providing you can find the correct paint!

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