Wednesday, October 26, 2011

1276 pizzas and some treats

This month is by far the wildest month at Old Town Pizza.  As a "we love our customers!!" promotion we sell medium cheese and pepperoni pizzas for $5 every Wednesday through the entire month.  It becomes ridiculously busy.  RIDICULOUS.  In the days when I worked there, it was stressful but fun and we pumped out the pizzas until we ran out (usually earlier than our closing time).  Now it's more than ridiculous.  It's insanity.  From open to close the kitchen is filling the oven with pizzas without stopping.  They are machines: rolling out dough, saucing, cheesing, pepperoni-ing, cutting, boxing.  It doesn't stop until the dough runs out, and there are hundreds of pounds of dough.

This was the final week for this year and today's pizza total blows any previous record outta the water.  Twelve hundred seventy six pizzas.  Can you even imagine it?  It's insanity!!!!  Our employees work hard during this promotion.  They are pretty much amazing, keeping a jolly front when people start to get annoyed at ever expanding wait times and building pizzas with a vengeance.  So I pulled out a special recipe for them.  They are generally pretty spoiled with cookies from me anyways, but this one wasn't any ol' cookie.  It's chocolate upon chocolate built up around a peppermint patty, and the recipe is a bit high maintenance.  But this was for a good cause (according to some, I am trying to fatten them up) because I love them for keeping my hubby happily employed and me at home with our sweet Rosita (she's like, one sixteenth mexican).

I borrowed the recipe from a favorite food blog, Vanilla Sugar.  You can find it here:

I say it's high maintenance because I had to grate nearly three sticks of butter.  It was super lame.  However, after the batter came together it was all fun and games.  The game pieces:

This ice cream scoop is probably my second favorite baking tool (my first is the electric mixer, can you imagine beating eggs into stiff peaks by hand?!), it makes all my cookies uniformly sized and makes people think I am some kind of baking genius.  Take two scoops of that gnarly chocolate batter and make a sinful little sandwich.

Then be a good girl (or boy) and follow the recipe's insistence that you seal the edges, even though you really want to cook them this way...just to see what happens!  (I would have, but I really needed all the cookies to come out nicely so there would be enough for the employees - boooorrrring!)

Next, feed the creature that is clinging to you so that she will go away and not get burned when you open the oven.  This creature enjoyed a peppermint patty.

Then- bake the suckas!  

If you are the milk slugging type, these absolutely require a glass of milk.  They are so, so decadent and fabulous.  No joke.  These are a special treat to be certain and if you make them you will not be disappointed, just maybe a bit annoyed while you grate butter.

I also threw together (HA!) a Tres Leches cake for the kitchen staff, and while I was making it I salivated all over myself.  Now I need to make one for me.  I didn't capture many shots of the process, just the "frosting".  It ain't really frosting, at least the way I define it.  It is spectacularly wonderful though.  So I turned my beaters on high in some cream, sugar, vanilla & almond extract (Shh!!  It's my secret ingredient!) and let'er rip.

And when the whine of the beaters in my ears got to be more than I could was done.

The transformation still gets me excited.  I mean, only a few minutes ago it was soupy, sloppy and certainly not spreadable.  Now it's a different creature all together!  Magical.  
So I spread it over my delicious cake, sprinkled on some cinnamon and BLAMO!  Tres Leches is in the bag.

The result is that my sink is fill of dirty dishes again and the clean ones haven't even been put away yet.  

Oh, and hopefully the OTP staff felt some love for all their efforts :)

Saturday, October 22, 2011

It's my favorite

Of all the's fall.

I am a fan of being "cozy" and while bathing suits are welcome on hot river days, they are not "cozy".  Autumn is all about coziness and hiding in a sweatshirt.  Although lately this sort of attire only works until about 9am, then it's back into naked arm/leg wear.  But still, I really like opening the door in the morning and feeling the chilly air on my face.

Don't forget all the cozy fall recipes and ingredients that are begging and pleading for me to make them.  I have at least ten solid pumpkin and butternut squash recipes that are vying for my attention.  It's really difficult for me. In our house a dinner recipe lasts at least two days.  That's cutting into the number of days I can make new things *whimper*.  Luckily, the stuff I make turns out yummy most of the time and I can pawn it off on the employees at my husband's workplace.  Lord knows I don't need dozens of cookies "I just had to make" laying around for my mindless munching habit.

Most importantly, all kind of outdoor activities pop up with loads of fabulous picture opportunities.  So, of course, we haul the camera with us and take ridiculous amounts of pictures and then ogle at them moments after we get home.  I can barely handle the bounty of photographic possibilities: pumpkin patches (oh, the oranges, greens and browns!), apples (reds!), straw bales WITH pumpkins (forced toddler photo shoot, anyone?) and costumes (because what the heck is cuter than small people dressed up to look like other things?).

I think I've made my point.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Too soon? I think no!

If I want Rosanna to be a famous pastry chef, win "Top Chef: Just Desserts" and buy us (her parents, who she owes everything) a house with the prize money, well then I think 19 months is not too young to start teaching her the art of baking.

This week I found a cookie recipe that had few ingredients (just four!) so it comes together quickly and with only 2 dirty dishes to show for it (winner!).  This led to my toddler sitting on the kitchen counter, modeling ingredients and confused about why my promise of cookies wasn't panning out.

The recipe actually calls for a spice cake mix, but I stood in the cake mix aisle for 5 minutes scanning and searching to find zero cake mixes labeled "Spice".  So I went with butter pecan instead.  I think in the future I will seek out the spice mix, our cookies didn't get that extra fall boost.
So the first thing to do is combine the mix and the pumpkin.  I let my toddler do this.

Sometimes (as in: for the most part) toddler coordination for keeping batter contained to the bowl is a silly expectation.  Shocking, I know.  I just learned about this today.  The result is battered hands, fingers, knee. 

Next up?  The egg.  We (I) stirred that puppy in there good.  Lastly are the chocolate chips.  How exciting!  How distracting!  
Hey, kid!  Try and focus, would ya?

Now the boring part, according to Rosie.  So boring, in fact that her mind wandered to other possibilities for our cookies.  I vetoed that one:

Before offering to do the dishes, yes that really happened, she had a minor melt down over the location of the cookies.  Where were they?  Why weren't we eating them?  Why was I playing this cruel trick?

Then we actually did dishes.  What a gal!

To kill some time and distract her from waiting the tragic 15 minutes, I harassed her a bit.  It's kind of my specialty.  She was insistent with her "No thank you!"s, but I am not so easily put off.

And as a reward for her politeness, cookies!!

These cookies turned out cakey (shocking!) and were pretty good.  I had one and decided that a whole bag of chocolate chips is a bit too much.  Moments later my thoughts manifested before my eyes:

Believe it or not, she didn't touch anything before I got her beautified again.  

Her skills need a bit of honing, but I'm up for the challenge!  Next time, maybe a pie......

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Pregnancy's over.

Not to be a downer, but this isn't going to be a "fun" post.  I know, the last one was a downer, I promise to keep it light next time.

Let's just call this one "informational".

As of Thursday I won't be pregnant anymore.  I'm experiencing what's called a "molar pregnancy".  It means that there is some DNA missing, that some part of the egg isn't complete and it isn't going to grow.  So I have a fertilized egg in me, a growing placenta and raging pregnancy hormones, none of which will ever result in a fetus.

We found this out yesterday at our prenatal appointment when, during the ultrasound, they could find no baby.  Then, after hours and hours of being at Kaiser, the nurse finally told us that there was no baby and I broke down.  I sobbed and cried and had unattractive face contortions.  It's a strange thing to have my mind set on such a big life change then to have it no longer be our reality.  This is difficult for me.

I was reminded yesterday, however, that I can be thankful.  There are so many worse things that can happen to a person and this is so very small.  Not only is my child amazing and beautiful, but she is healthy and so is my husband.  We are in no position to grieve for long over this little speed bump.  We will just try again.

I still am pregnant.  My hormone levels are on par with someone having triplets (not uncommon of molar pregnancies) and I feel like crap half the time.  Thursday all the stuff that has grown inside me for this pregnancy will be removed.  For some reason this part hits me the hardest.  I can't think about it without a hard lump forming in my throat and my eyes burning.

Then....I don't know what.  I don't know what recovery looks like (the procedure is considered "surgical") and I don't know how long before my hormones go back to normal.  I'm nervous.

And I'll be o.k.

Now you know, that way you don't have to ask me when my due date is or ask me if we're hoping for a boy or a girl.  You don't have to feel bad for us either.  We're sad, but we're really ok.