January 6, 2017

Tarte soleil

This recipe began at King Arthur flour, like all the other ones (website loyalty is a good thing!!) but I found a smitten kitchen recipe that did not require me to make my own puff pastry. Hello! 

Basically you layer two sheets of puff pastry, fill it how you see fit (I made a cream cheese/cheddar/bacon/herbs filling), cut it into a ten inch circle (I left mine a square...), cut circle into quarters eight times for 32 rays, and twist each ray three times. Bake at 400 for about 25 minutes. And enjoy! 

It is awfully fun and festive looking for the simplicity involved. I wasn't totally happy with my filling, but it is a delicious thing to keep trying to perfect. 

January 5, 2017

Chocolate Hazelnut Crepe Cake from King Arthur and Broma Bakery

I may have a thing for King Arthur.... 

Remember my artistic attempts at crepes? 

They resulted in a chocolate hazelnut crepe cake. I am terrible at food photography. But it was really yummy! Crisp crepes layered with hazelnut pastry cream? Oh yes. 

This will take  you approximately 7867 hours to make. Budget your time accordingly. Or get a good book to read or listen to while you make crepes. I always thought crepes were quick things. Each of my crepes took about 5 minutes. Maybe mine were overcooked. 

Hey! I have never made crepes before! 

If you want to see this crepe cake in all it's chocolatey glory, go check out the Broma Bakery photos. They are a thousand times more appealing than my pictures. 

Chocolate Hazelnut Crepe Cake


  • 1¾ cups Flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup Cocoa
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1½ cups milk
  • ½ cup unsalted butter, melted


  • 2 cups homemade Pastry Cream (see below)
  • ¾ cup chocolate hazelnut spread, such as Nutella

Pastry Cream

  • 3 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1 cup heavy cream, whipped to stiff peaks
(In typing this up, I realize I completely forgot the whipped cream. Ooopsie! I will have to make it again to see if it is better with it. This version, sans whipped cream, was pretty fabulous....)

For Crepes--

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt and cocoa. If the cocoa has any lumps be sure to break them up or sift them out.
  2. Whisk in the eggs, milk and butter and continue to whisk until the mixture is smooth. Pour the batter through a strainer into a clean bowl, cover and set aside for 30 minutes.
  3. Towards the end of the rest period, preheat your crêpe pan according to the manufacturer's direction. Cook a test crêpe or two, and adjust the batter with milk if it is too thick to work with. Cook the rest of the crêpes, you'll need about 18 to 20 for the cake.
  4. Cool the crêpes while you prepare the homemade Pastry Cream (recipe linked above). You will need approximately 2 cups of cooled pastry cream.

Cooling the crepes was pretty easy for me--I ended up with paper thin crepes and I had a large cookie sheet to place them on. By the time I finished the third crepe (they took forEVER to make) the first one was cooled completely. I made the pastry cream ahead of time, so I just assembled the cake while I was making them. 

For Hazelnut Pastry Cream--

  1. In a medium-sized saucepan, stir together 2 1/2 cups of the milk, the sugar, and salt. Bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar.
  2. Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch, flour, and egg yolks with the remaining 1/2 cup milk.
  3. Whisk some of the hot milk mixture with the egg yolks to temper them. This keeps the yolks from turning to scrambled eggs when you add them to the simmering milk.
  4. Pour the egg/milk mixture back into the remaining simmering milk. Doing this through a strainer will help prevent lumps later. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly with a whisk, until the mixture thickens.
  5. Remove from the heat and strain through a fine sieve. Stir in the butter and vanilla extract. Stir in the nutella. 
  6. Rub a piece of butter over the surface of the cream, top with a piece of plastic wrap (make sure it touches the top of the pastry cream so it doesn't develop a skin), then refrigerate until cool.
  7. To complete, fold the whipped cream into the cooled pastry cream.
Assembling cake--

  1. To assemble the cake: Stack 3 crêpes on a serving plate and spread with 2 tablespoons of hazelnut pastry cream. Continue to layer a single crêpe and 2 tablespoons of filling until you are nearly out of crêpes. For stability, occasionally layer two or three crêpes instead of one single crêpe.
  2. End with a layer of 3 crêpes. Wrap the cake well in plastic wrap, using a little pressure to keep the cake pressed down. Chill for at least 60 minutes, or up to overnight. Slice in wedges to serve.

January 4, 2017

Pretzel Bites from King Arthur

Since I was on break, I decided to splash out and try a few new recipes. Because trying new recipes is a marvelous thing. 

These were so, so good. All salty and buttery and pretzely. 

This is from King Arthur Flour. But I will copy and paste it here just in case King Arthur decides to move the recipe or delete it. 

Pretzel Bites


2 1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon sugar
2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast (or one packet) 
1 cup warm water*

*in summer, use two tablespoons less water. I have no idea why. 


1 cup boiling water
2 tablespoons baking soda
coarse, kosher or pretzel salt. Or coarse sugar if you prefer to go that route.
6 tablespoons melted butter

And now I am going to straight up copy and paste the instructions. Because nobody's got time to re-type that all out again. 

  1. 1. To make dough by hand, or with a mixer: Place all of the dough ingredients into a bowl, and beat until well-combined. Knead the dough, by hand or machine, for about 5 minutes, until it's soft, smooth, and quite slack. Flour the dough and place it in a bag, and allow it to rest for 30 minutes.
  1. 2. To make dough with a bread machine: Place all of the dough ingredients into the pan of your bread machine, program the machine for dough or manual, and press Start. Allow the dough to proceed through its kneading cycle (no need to let it rise), then cancel the machine, flour the dough, and give it a rest in a plastic bag, as instructed above.
  1. 3. While the dough is resting, prepare the topping: Combine the boiling water and baking soda, stirring until the soda is totally (or almost totally) dissolved. Set the mixture aside to cool to lukewarm (or cooler).
  1. 4. Preheat your oven to 400°F. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with vegetable oil spray, or lining it with parchment paper.
  1. 5. Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface, and divide it into six equal pieces.
  1. 6. Roll the six pieces of dough into 12" to 15" ropes. Cut each rope crosswise into about 12 pieces.
  1. 7. Pour the cooled baking soda solution into a pan large enough to hold the bites. Place the bites into the solution, gently swish them around, and leave them there for a couple of minutes. Transfer them to a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and top with pretzel salt or sea salt; or with pearl sugar, for sweet pretzel bites.
  1. 8. Bake the bites for 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove them from the oven, and roll them in the melted butter.
  1. 9. For cinnamon-sugar pretzels, toss with cinnamon-sugar once you've rolled the bites in the butter.
  1. 10. Place on a rack. In you're not going to enjoy them immediately, store the bites, well-wrapped, at room temperature. Reheat briefly before serving.
  1. Yield: about 6 dozen bites.

January 3, 2017

New Years

New Years was quiet this year. My brother Tyler in California went into the hospital on Christmas Eve, so my Dad flew out the day after Christmas to be with him. Then Mom and Cody flew out on Friday. So it was just Owen and Ashley and us around. NYE was a Saturday night anyway, so we decided against a party. So these pictures are just around New Years. 

(Tyler is perfectly fine now and Mom and Dad had a teensy vacation! So it all worked out!)

Owen riling the kids up by stealing Orianna's knitting bag. They so love to be outraged and riled up by Uncle Owen. 

We hope he is pretty much recovered from his appendicitis. Otherwise, he might suffer a relapse from having a lot of kids hanging off him. 

Ashley made sugar cookies for the kids to decorate. They adored them and all their brightness!

Our New Year's Eve Party. Bird Bingo. 

Elsie jumped up and down every time Daddy called one she had.

Side note--have you met our light yet? This is a pretty bad picture of it. My aunt gave it to us a few years ago when they were moving and needed to downsize "stuff." I hung in our basement for a few years getting covered in sawdust. As the days got darker earlier, we realized we had no light for our table, so.... we put this one to use! It has a marvelous 1970's vibe that fits in nicely with our single wide paradise. 

Bug Bingo is gorgeous. And the kids love it. 

My New Year's Eve--making crepes and finishing a library book.  Do you like my Jackson Pollack crepes? I am not the best crepe maker. But I feel more confident about crepes now that I have actually done them. There was a lot of trial and error this night. I was making a crepe cake for potluck the next day. I finished crepes at 11:40 when I decided my crepe cake was tall enough and dumped out the rest of the batter. 

Because I am still young enough to stay up until midnight. But I am definitely old enough to go to sleep by 12:05. 

I had just brought my camera in from the cold, so the lens was foggy. But I love this picture of the two Allies laughing together.

More sedate Allies

Hoyt was being a bull.

Abilene in her ruffle-y skirt with Orianna. 

Ashley bought a kit of gingerbread houses. So we spend New Year's Day evening making gingerbread houses. 

The grown ups played Blokus

Lily's house

Orianna hard at work.

The grown ups progressed to Progressive Rummy. 

The kids were still working at their houses.

Lily's house with icicles 

They were quite delighted by the final result.

Abilene reading Grandma's bible. Isn't she adorable? 

When she came in to meeting that morning, she was grinning to beat the band--pleased as punch to see everyone!

We love her. And her skirt.

Last day of break morning!

A good way to spend it!

Dominion. With a wolf guarding the estate cards.

Elsie was busy while we were playing our game.

Daisy girl

Owen feeding cows

The kids wanted to help feed cows, but with round bales, it isn't really safe for them to go with Owen. So we took the Suburban on a field trip. (Get it? FIELD trip. I am a riot.)


Dad got home from California the day after New Years. The kids were quite excited to see him!

Dad and Owen talking

Beauty keeping an eye on things

Dad getting the mail. 

(Because we weren't very good about getting the mail while he was gone.... Oops!)