We've now entered into my favorite season. I probably say that when each new season begins because I'm tired of the last one but really I think fall is my all time favorite. I think it's the colors mostly. That and the crispness in the air.
So with that being said I've been thinking about autumn inspired recipes and decided to make a list of recipes I want to make try out in the next few months.
1. Mini Pumpkin Whoppie Pies- love, love, love pumpkin anything
2. Sweet Potato Pie- I nearly made this many times last year but never got around to it. I also love sweet potato anything.
3. Pumpkin Cheesecake- I make this every year but I need to make it more than once this year! Sooooo good. I'll always love my grandmother's pumpkin pie (which I had on Sunday btw) but cheesecake knocks it up to a whole other level.
4. Poached Pears with Cranberry Sauce- Ina's cranberry compote is my new family Thanksgiving tradition but I like this pear option too. I don't try pears too often but these look so elegant.
5. Apple Crisp- Granny Smiths+cinnamon+brown sugar+butter+oatmeal=my all time favorite fall dessert.
That's what I'm loving from Martha. I'm sure I'll come up with lots more later on.
It started from having some Häagen-Dazscaramel cone ice cream. The caramel in it was amazing, so that led me to try their Dulce de Leche flavor which is caramel ice cream with Dulce de Leche swirled in.
So now I have to try to explain what Dulce de Leche is. In short, it's slowly heated (caramelized) sweetened milk. It's not to be confused with caramel which is slowly heated sugar. I like caramel. I love Dulce de Leche. So much that I capitalize it obviously. It's not as sticky as caramel which is maybe why I love it more. I hate when caramel sticks in your teeth. And the taste is too amazing.
Up until recently I was very limited to Dulce de Leche with my Häagen-Daz being the only ice cream I ever buy anymore besides my other standby- raspberry sorbet (try Ciao Bello!!!). This is exactly why I love blogging and looking at other food blogs-on Spike Bakes (also where I found my snickerdoodles and a fellow Mad Men fan which equals a wonderful person) I saw Dulce de Leche brownies. Intrigued, I began reading and was thinking "I'd love to try this but where am I going to find Dulce de Leche in a store around here?" (I've already looked). The recipe had come from pastry chef extraordinaire and foodie-David Lebovitz. I'm so jealous of food bloggers (or any bloggers, person, animal or plant) that gets to live in Paris. One day I'm sure that someone will pay me enough to go on assignment there for a few years or so.
But back to the great thing about blogging-on David's site I found out that making Dulce de Leche is easy. So easy, I couldn't believe I hadn't looked it up before. Here is how it happens. You take a can of sweetened condensed milk, add a fleck or two of salt, put it in a shallow dish, put the dish in a pan, pour hot water in the pan, bake for 1 hour.
That's it! I don't know why I thought it would be complicated. Well actually it can be more complicated since the traditional way to make it is to boil the can. Yes, you boil the entire can in a pressure cooker. I have no pot large enough for this task or I would probably be crazy enough to take it on. However, for my own life and that of my cat who could get hit if standing nearby by an exploding can, I'll stick to David's recipe for now.
So last night I tried it out. I nearly poured scalding water all over myself getting the pan in the 425 degree oven (*tip-pour water in after you sit the pan in the oven!!!). When I got it out, it looked very lumpy so I was wondering if I had left it in long enough but after putting it in another container and leaving it in the fridge overnight it came out perfectly. I've tried not to eat all of it so I can save it for some Dulce de Leche brownies also on David's blog.
Just in case, I have another can of sweetened condensed milk for backup. (By the time I posted this I have already used it up too...)
Today my school's menu was: Salisbury dippers (like cheesy breadsticks) or fish sticks, green beans, corn, and peaches. Blah. For one thing, why are the two entrees shaped like sticks? They did have some leftover baked ziti that they were serving as well that didn't look too terrible. But for the three years I have been teaching now I have never eaten school lunch. Not that what I bring from home is terribly fancy or completely healthy all the time (diet coke every day) but there has never been anything in the cafeteria that I saw and instantly wanted which is sad because food is made to be sort of desirable and wanted right?
However, I'm totally a fan of our school's new grant to give each student (and teacher!) healthy snack each day. A fresh peach, banana, granny smith apple, or orange is really beneficial at 1 o'clock each afternoon to get me through the rest of the day. Supposedly they are going to start getting more adventurous with their choices as time goes on. I'm anxiously awaiting some mangos, raspberries, and just maybe some apricots.
As promised, my 3rd graders had their chocolate themed party to celebrate Roald Dahl's birthday and finishing Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. They are kinda obsessed with the book now. They come up with new plans for it everyday. One day after reading a few chapters they decided we should make it into our class play so that we could perform it for PTA night. One little boy would make the perfect Charlie. He's really little and has the Charlie spirit we all decided. Most everyone else wanted to be an Oompa Loompa. Except for me who the children decided would have to play Willie Wonka himself. I was the tallest one was their reasoning.
Friday was sort of a crazy day. We had a practice test that took up most of the morning and then they went with the AIG teacher in the afternoon for a math lesson. So we basically did Charlie and the Chocolate Factory themed lessons the rest of the time. We finished up the book right in time for Fun Friday. It all fell into place better than I ever could have planned since when I started the book I had no idea that Roald's birthday was coming up on September 13th.
The menu consisted of:
Chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and sprinkles and Everlasting Gobstoppers
Orange Slices (nothing to do with the book but our school gets healthy snacks each day)
Snozberry Juice (actually mixed berry, but keeping up with the theme I told them it had snozberries in it. They believed me.)
The kids enjoyed themselves but were a little disappointed when they found out that their Everlasting Gobstoppers didn't last forever and didn't change flavors once a week like Willie Wonka had promised.
We are studying adventure stories in 3rd grade this week and for our read aloud time (yes, I've actually kept up with this and have had it everyday so far) we've been reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. I couldn't have planned it any better because as it turns out Roald Dahl's birthday is September 13th. And in the world of children's literature, celebrating famed author's birthdays is a big deal.
Today the kids designed their own golden tickets that were really funny and cute. Then during reading time I told them that I had just found out that the author's birthday was coming up soon. They were way excited and then I casually mentioned that we should throw him an all chocolate birthday party. Well, that was it. They planned out the entire menu- chocolate cake with chocolate icing, chocolate candy everything, and hot chocolate. I'm never one to turn down a party or chocolate so I think I'll go along with it. I'm coming up with a lot of ideas so we might just go all out and invite the school librarian. Although, it will be cleverly and very smartly planned for next Friday at 2:30 which will be just enough time for all of the chocolate festivities so they can then get on the bus to go home to their parents at 3:15. If you've never seen 19 eight year olds loaded on school party sweets then it is something you should witness at least once in your life.
And also, I still really prefer Gene Wilder as Willy Wonka as opposed to Johnny Depp.