My Top 10 of 2011!

Wow! Where did 2011 go?  Seems as I get older the years just fly by.  This year  I did a lot of baking, most were good, some were amazing and a few were total flops!  There were some  new recipes and others were tried and true favourites.  The Daring Bakers took me way out of my comfort zone as I was truly dared with some amazing recipes.  As for the “flops” I posted them too, not everything can turn out well.  I thought I would end the year with a “top 10” list of my favourite recipes of the year.

 10. Perogi Day

Perogi Day was a day I will never forget! Mom, Etta, Jen and myself were at it for almost 12 hours.  We made 9 different flavours, used 25 pounds of potatoes, 7 tubs of sour cream, almost 2 bags of flour and a lot of bacon, cheese and onions.  We ended up with, get ready for it……471 perogies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! They were delicious, not sure I will be able to go back to the frozen ones from the store.  It was a great day and the results were amazing! We all agreed that we would definitely do it again, just not anytime soon…

9.  Apple Sauce Muffins

These Apple Sauce Muffins were something I stumbled across when visiting Gramma one afternoon.  They were hot and fresh and delicious!  You can’t really taste the apple sauce, they are a little bit sweet and have an amazing texture.  I think I have made them at least 6 times since then.  A wonderful recipe with simple ingredients, Thanks Gramma! 🙂

8.  Baklava

This one was special for me.  I was asked to be the host of the June Daring Bakers Challenge!  Being host meant that I was able to pick any recipe and have all the members make their variations. I had always said, way back when I joined, that if I ever got the chance to host I was going to pick Baklava.  It was amazing to see the different variety of baklava that were made.  I was a little daring (mean) and had everyone make their own phyllo dough.  Some people enjoyed the process, a lot did not, but all in all it was a wonderful experience.  It was a true honour to be picked to be the June 2011 host.  My baklava was delicious.  I will definitely be making it again but, like many other members, I will probably use pre-made phyllo!

7.  Puppy Chow

Puppy Chow was new for me, I had never even heard of it.  Jen had come over to do some Christmas baking and she brought all the ingredients for Puppy Chow…hmmm.  I was pleasantly surprised!  Unlike the name this is a wonderful treat!!!  Very simple, cereal, chocolate, butter, peanut butter and icing sugar.  It is very addicting!  It was a great gift to give away in little Christmas sacks.  Thanks Jen for a great recipe that I will be using for many years to come.  I may have to come up with a more appealing name….

6. Cupcakes, Cupcakes and more Cupcakes!

This was a scary one! Making 130 cupcakes for Kris and Selena’s Wedding!  I had never done anything like this before.  I mean I had made cupcakes but never 130 in one day!  I was a nervous wreck, as I think the wedding cakes is a huge deal.  Sadly it’s the food aspects that people remember more at a wedding then the actual ceremony.  I thought if they don’t turn out I’d have people thinking “god, their cake was horrible”.  Thank goodness everything went smoothly and the cupcakes were a hit!  So much so that there was not near enough 😦 If there is a next time, I will know people will eat more than one! Thanks Kris and Selena!

5. Bachlorette Cake

When Coralee asked me to make Chrissy’s Bachlorette Party cake I was thrilled!  I had just recently taken the Wilton Fondant course and figured this would be the perfect opportunity to give my new skills a try.  For my first try at creating a formed fondant covered cake, I think it turned out pretty good.  I hope to make more in the future.  Unfortunately I fell ill that night and was unable to make the party, so I didn’t get to try it.  Hope it was good!

4. Wedding CakeS!

No, I did not make a typo in the title I meant for the ‘S’ to be big!  This was by far my biggest baking event ever, let alone in 2011.  I was asked to make the cakes for Jen and Martin’s Wedding.  At first I was terrified and think I even tried to talk her out of it, as I mentioned above, the wedding cake is a huge deal!  When I calmed down I was truly honoured and accepted the challenge.  Jen had a wonderful idea of having a cake on each table.  The cake would then be “the wedding cake”, centre piece and dessert.  It really was a good idea.  It was a ton of work but I enjoyed every minute of it and would do it again in a heart beat!  Thanks Jen!!

3. Povitica

This recipe was from the October Daring Bakers Challenge hosted by Jenni of The Gingered Whisk.  She introduced me to something I had never heard of.  Povitica?? I could barely say it let alone make it.  As it was a bread recipe I was very hesitant in even trying it, bread and I do not get along well.  I was pleasantly surprised, it was an amazing dough and so versatile.  I was able to make both savory and sweet loaves out of the recipe.  They were delicious!! This one rang in on my top 3!  I will be making this a lot more in years to come.  Thank you Jenni!!

2. Whoopie Pies!

I was a little late jumping on the Whoopie Pie ban wagon.  Not sure what rock I had been living under but I just heard about these in July.  Apparently they were quite the craze a while ago.  There is even a “Whoopie Pie War” with two States as they both say they are the founder of the Whoopie Pie.  Well, I don’t care who came up with the idea, I’m just glad they did!!  These are little pieces of heaven!  Surprisingly they are not sweet, they have a lovely light texture and a wonderful marshmallow filling.  I have only made the “Classic Whoopie” but I have a book and plan on making many different kinds.  What a wonderful find!

Drum roooooooooooooooooooollllllllllllllllllll…………………….

1. Salted Caramel Shortbread Bars

Without question this was my favourite recipe of the year!  I mean look at at…it’s not only the best tasting dessert bar ever, it’s also a thing of beauty!  This recipe was not even intended for me, haha.  When Jen came over to do some Christmas baking, it was for her to take to her baking exchange.  I had one bite and almost had to sit down.  It is one of those treats that after your first bite you have to stop before you start chewing and your eyes grow twice their normal size as you cant believe this piece of magic in your mouth.  It then turns into an eyes closed slow chew as you take in all the textures and tastes, and then it hits you…the salt!  Your taste buds jump into high gear.  It is like no other dessert experience I have ever had.  Don’t believe me, Try them!!!  Thank you Jen for my FAVOURITE treat of the year!  This recipe will remain at the front of my recipe book to be made time and time again!

I would like to thank my many followers for stopping by throughout the year to see whats up in my kitchen. When I first started this whole blogging thing, I really didn’t think anyone other then family would read.  I was shocked and so happy to see when I had over 20,000 hits!

Thanks again and Happy New Year!  Please come back to see what’s baking in 2012

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Perogi Day

A few years ago I had my first homemade perogi, I could not believe how much better they were then the frozen store-bought ones.  It was then that I decided I wanted to try to make them one day, even added them to my “Buck List of Baking”.  Last Christmas when Mom and I got together with Etta to make our Christmas cake we decided our next cooking adventure would be perogies.  We figured we would do it in February.  Well….February past as did March, April and the summer.  Heading into fall I made everyone pick a date we could get together or I knew it would not happen.  October 22 was decided on as Perogi Day.  None of us had ever made a perogi so for most of the day we were flying by the seat of our pants.  I did not get as many pictures as I would have liked, as it was mad kaos for a while everyone was doing something different, it was nuts!  Also, it was a drab, rainy day so the ones I did get didn’t turn out so well. Anyways here was our Perogi Day adventures!

9:00 A.M

I arrive at Mom and Dads, with what I thought was all I needed to bring, I was wrong, had to head home a few times (good thing I live close).  Then had to head to the Store for a couple more things…We are convinced at this point we have everything we need

10:00 A.M

We patiently (well, not so patiently) are waiting for our cooking partners Etta and Jen to arrive.  Got a call at 10:12 SOMEONE ***Cough***Etta***Cough slept in!!!  Not wanting to be too far behind Mom and I got a start on a few things.

11:00 A.M

They arrive and are put right to work! lol First we start peeling a 10 pound bag of potatoes to get them boiling to get our fillings made. Next step is the dough

Now you must remember that none of us have made perogies before and we keep asking each other questions like one of us is going to know the answer.  So I just started answering like I did know the answers, haha.  Once Etta made the executive decision of which dough we were going to make, we were under way

Linda’s Sour Cream Perogi Dough

4 cups Flour

3 eggs

1 cup sour cream

dash salt

water as needed

That was all the information we had.  What the texture was supposed to be, we had no idea.  This was one of those times where we were looking for answers, that no one had, it got quite comical at times.  We even called Linda for guidance, BUT she wasn’t home.  We had to wing it.  This is what we did.

1. In large bowl measure flour

2. in a medium bowl lightly beat eggs

3. Add sour cream and stir

4. Add to flour

5. Stir until all comes together, then knead with your hands

6. Wrap in plastic wrap and let sit in fridge for at least half hour

Through out the day Etta made 13 batches of dough! 13!!!

Fillings

For the fillings we didn’t follow a recipe we just went with flavours we like.  Half way through the making of the fillings we realized we didn’t have enough potatoes so out I went to get another 10 pound bag plus we used 5 pounds that Mom had

We made…

1. Homemade Mac n’ Cheese

2. Potato and Cheese

3. Cheese (Ricotta)

4. potato, Cheese and onion

5. potato, Cheese and Bacon

6. Cheese and onion

7. potato Cheese and Garlic

Rolling the Dough

(This was my job, rolled all 13 batches!)

So, now let me go on a bit of a tangent.  For months I search and search for perogie makers, and I mean searched!  I had always seen them, until I wanted one.  A few months ago I finally found them, so I bought 2!  It was at this point I bring out the little contraption thinking it was the best thing ever invented, the bottom cuts the perfect sized, then it folds and seals….

Beautiful! a perfect perogi! BUT it took forever! We quickly realized looking at the 7 bowls of fillings that this little contraption was worthless, we would be here for days!  So this my friends was the one and only, admire its beauty, I was quite proud 🙂

We then decided we would set up and assembly line.  Etta was making the dough and on clean up.  I was rolling and cutting the dough.  Jen was filling the dough and Mom was sealing the perogi.  We had quite the set up.

While we were rolling and stuffing and sealing, and rolling and stuffing and sealing and rolling and stuffing and sealing, Etta made a perogi casserole.  We all thought it sounded wonderful, so we gave it a go! There are zero pictures of this process as I was busy rolling and did not notice or even know this was happening 😦

PEROGIE CASSEROLE

15 lasagna noodles
4 cups cottage cheese (or ricotta if you can’t handle the idea of cottage cheese!)
2 eggs
1/2 tsp. onion powder
2 cups shredded cheddar
4 cups mashed potatoes
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 cup butter
1 large onion, chopped
sour cream

1. Cook noodles according to package directions. Drain.

2. Line bottom of casserole dish with 5 noodles.

3. Mix ricotta cheese, egg, and onion powder in bowl.

4. Spread over noodles.

5. Cover with another layer of 5 noodles.

6. In same bowl mix cheddar cheese with mashed potatoes. Add onion and black pepper. Spread over noodles.

7. Top with a layer of the remaining noodles.

8. Saute chopped onion in butter until transparent and soft. Pour over casserole.

9. Bake 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Serve with sour cream (optional).

The casserole was ok.  Probably would not make it again.  If I did I would use different ingredients, reduce the amount of onions and add bacon.

6:30 P.M

Finally finished rolling (at this point the rolling-pin felt about 30 pounds), stuffing and sealing

25 pounds of potatoes, 7 tubs or sour cream, almost 2 bags of flour and a lot of bacon, cheese and onions we ended up with, get ready for it……471 perogies!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Finally done rolling and stuffing and sealing.  These trays are double and some tripped stacked

7:00 P.M

We got most things cleaned up and sort them out for everyone to take home and get into the freezer, but WAIT, we need to try them.  A few times throughout the day we kept bringing up that perhaps we should try a few to see if they were any good.  It would be a bugger if we got them all done and they were horrible!

Time to try a few…

Saute onions and bacon to serve with perogies

The Verdict

These were quite possibly the best perogies I have had.  The dough was wonderful, tender with a wonderful flavour.  Our fillings were bang on.  Not sure I could pick a favourite.  We decided all that work was well worth it and we will do it again.  We also decided that it was way to much work so we wont be taking requests, hahaha.  We will be savoring these ones, which is going to be hard as they are soo good.

9:00 P.M

Finish helping get the house back in order and finally arrived home.  A full 12 hours and I am pooped!

Thanks Mom, Etta and Jen, it was a fantastic day, lots of laughs and good times.  Looking forward to our next cooking adventure, hopefully we can start on time 😉