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Sometimes I Try To Bake And I Succeed!

7 Sep

Hello lovely readership! All five of you! ­čÖé

I recently read this fabulous post by my absolute favorite baking blogger, Darla. Then when I was ordering my groceries for delivery, due to my lack of wheels in my living in this godforsaken place called New Jersey, I decided to go for it and ordered all of the components for this easy and yummy meal that will last foooooreeeeeveeerrrr (For the right effect, read that in the voice of those little green aliens from Toy Story. These guys.). I mean, it makes about twelve servings because you bake it in a 9 by 13, so for a person only feeding herself, it will last a really long time. I plan to freeze half of it. In little servings. Little servings of yummy pizza pastaness.

OK! Back to business.

You can find the entire recipe and all of Darla’s helpful insights here on her blog Bakingdom. I will just give you the general overview of how it went in my kitchen which, for once, was swimmingly!

First, you cook your pasta! I chose whole wheat organic pasta because I’m cool like that, and I figured if I was going to be eating something with “pepperoni” and “pizza” in the name I ought to use the healthiest ingredients possible. Plus, I like being full and I hate being hungry. Whole wheat pasta keeps me full for longer, in my experience, than normal pasta. Now that I’ve plugged whole wheat pasta fo FREE, on we go!

if it looks slightly awkward, that's because I took this picture after it had been chillin out for a while.

The full recipe calls for a 13 oz box of pasta,which is a LOT of pasta friends. Darla suggests you cook only until it is al dente because it will then be baked, but for my personal tastes I will cook it for longer next time. Whole wheat pasta is awesome, but it is definitely tougher than non-whole wheat pasta in general. I’d like it to be softer in the final product next time.

Then, you make the sauce all on your own! It is ridiculously easy and SO yummy. It just takes a few ingredients that you probably have in your cabinet already (except for 30-32 oz of tomato sauce) and it is quite yummy.

look its so yummy!

If you follow Darla’s recipe, this is where you will brown your sausage and dice your pepperonis. Since this is a pizza pasta bake, it is my personal opinion that you should put the things you love on a pizza into the pasta, so I opted for turkey pepperoni and black olives instead. The next time I make this, I think I’m going to make a veggie supreme version ┬áwith sauteed onions, olives, peppers, and mushrooms. Yum!

A note on the sauce: I really enjoy the flavor of the sauce. My only complaint is that I like my pizza and my pasta to be extra saucey! Next time, I will go with two 15 oz cans of tomato sauce and an extra 8 oz can in order to increase the sauce content.

After your add-ins (toppings, if you will) are all prepared, combine them with the sauce that you have oh so expertly simmered.

look at those black olives and pepperoni bits in all that saucey goodness!

Next you add the pasta to the sauce. You can mix it in the bowl, like I did:

don't all the pieces look so happy together?

Or you can pour them both into your pan and mix together there. Either way, the result is the same! Then you cover your pizza pasta with mozzarella cheese. Darla calls for two cups, but I went for more like three cups on my first try. I like things to be cheesy! Well, I like food to be cheesy. Less so jokes and people.

look at all that CHEESE!

Then you pop it in your preheated oven (which is a nice and toasty 350 degrees) and let it hang out for about 25 minutes. When I checked on mine the top was not brown, so I let it go for another five minutes. When it still was not brown I was way too hungry to give a shit and pulled it out anyway.

I think it still looks good and melty despite an absence of brown on the top

This next step is the hardest part: wait for ten minutes so it will be cool and collected and, most importantly, will not burn off your tastebuds or make awkward things happen to the roof of your mouth. After the requisite ten minutes have passed, you can TOTALLY eat it!

Word to the wise, if you are indeed using super solid whole wheat extra healthy pasta, you won’t need nearly as much as you think to get full. I promise! I found out the hard way.

Suggested pairing: your new copy of bitch magazine.

a meal fit for a hungry feminist

A few concluding thoughts on this highly successful baking adventure: This meal can be as healthy as you want (or as delectably greasy! both are valid choices.) because you have so much control over what happens in the process. I chose turkey pepperoni, whole wheat pasta, and reduced fat mozzarella simply because I knew I’d be eating it every day for a while and that better fits my daily eating style. This dish can easily be made low sodium (only 1 teaspoon of extra salt goes into the sauce and you can use low sodium tomato sauce or some other tomato source if you prefer), vegetarian, or vegan (if you MUST skip the cheese). Did I mention it’s easy? Because it totally is.

All right! My editing break is over. It’s back to the thesis grindstone for me, but at least I’m full of pizza pasta goodness!

Love, sisterhood, and lots of cheese,

me

 

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TARDish Cupcakes Or: Why You Should Always Follow Directions and Use a Cookie Cutter

24 Aug

I had every intention of writing an ERA-related blog this week, but honestly? I do not feel like researching anything that doesn’t have to do with my thesis right now, and that’s OK.

So, today my roomate and I decided it was a good day to bake. I thought it would be fun to finally try one of those recipes from Bake It In A Cake! since I’ve been tumblr stalking them for months. I thought, why don’t I combine my desire for baking with my passion for Doctor Who?

Enter: The Plan

The original plan was to use blue sprinkles, blue icing, and blue food dye to make a blue funfetti-style white cake with blue shapes inside (perhaps a “D” or a box like the TARDIS) and blue icing. Then I realized this cake was all white cake and no chocolate, so I scrapped that idea. If it’s a simple from-a-box deal, I usually stick to yellow cake and chocolate icing. I decided I would just dye half of the batter one color and half another, and then use those two colors to make my cut out for the inside and then to fill in the rest of the cupcake. (If you take a gander at Bake It In A Cake! you’ll understand what I mean.)

I got back and tried to do some math to determine how much half of the batter would be. I thought that I could also possibly cut it down so I’d only have twelve cupcakes to contend with here in this apartment while thesising alone. (That’s always the issue with baking, isn’t it? Things go stale quickly and so you need people to share them with/need to be ready for a sugar coma.)

I also decided to copy Darla at Bakingdom‘s decision to work with the concept of weeping angels in her Doctor Who-inspired baking adventures. Of course, I’d just be trying to do a really simple angle outline to stick inside of a cupcake. I thought this or perhaps a “D” would be achievable.

False.

Here’s what happened.

I decided that 1/4c batter goes into each cupcake tin, so there must be approximately six cups of batter. Three cups should be baked and then I’d have enough left to fill up twelve cupcakes with the outside color.

I also decided to make the outside color of the cupcake blue like the TARDIS. Here’s as close as I got to TARDIS blue with my food dye and yellow cake batter:

My life is colorful, just like this.

I baked a thin layer of the yellow cake batter in a glass 9 x 13 pan with the intention of cutting (like, freehanding with a knife, because I don’t believe in spending money on cookie cutters) the shapes out once it cooled. I baked it for about fifteen minutes, since it was so spread out. I immediately transferred it to the freezer to cool down.

Here’s what happened with that business. The top layer of the cake turned into this cold, gooey, fragile bit that kept getting stuck on the knife, my hands, everything it touched. I don’t really mind shoving my hands into ground beef to make hamburgers, but I really┬áminded this gooey cold cake substance. Yuck. I was pretty positive I hadn’t cooked it all the way through because of the top layer and because it was SO HARD TO CUT.

Also, note to readers: If you ever intend to do this, two things: 1. Don’t follow these directions, find a real recipe. 2. Butter and flour the pan you bake the cake in for cut outs, because just greasing it doesn’t make it come off quite easily enough for delicate symbols. Like the letter D. Or an angel.

So, now that my hands were covered in yellow cake goo and my cutouts were falling apart, I decided to just cut out circles of yellow cake to put in the middle so it would be like a really simple TARDIS: blue on the outside, yellow(ish) on the inside.

This is when I started to realize that my original calculations were wrong, because there was not nearly enough blue batter to make twelve cupcakes no matter what I did. I also had way too much yellow goo cake.

This is not what the inside of the TARDIS looks like. The inside of the TARDIS is lovely. This is a hot mess. But cold.

I used a spatula to get every little bit of blue cake batter into the cupcakes and ended up with nine. Let me put this to you in a way that makes sense: the box says that the batter is supposed to make twenty-four cupcakes. And I had nine.

I decided just to go with it and see what happened. In the end, I had two with hearts in them (because that seemed like a simple pattern and I saw it on Bake It In A Cake!), one with this little thing that started out as a W but then I realized looked like a (very, very simple and cubist) dalek, so I used that. I used one of my angels, too. The other five were just circles of yellow cake with blue around them.

At least they looked blue at this point.

I figured I could at least count on them to be blue and cute looking, like cupcakes are, when they came out of the oven. False. They looked like alien cupcakes (which, I suppose, is appropriate).

Seriously, one of them has a face and the rest of them look like green polyjuice potion.

I then went for the only option I had left: chocolate icing. The proof is in the non-pudding: Icing can even make greenish slitheen polyjuice cupcakes look edible and delicious:

See? You would totally eat these, right?

For a while, I was too full from all of my baking process samples (read: dipping my finger into the batter) to even consider a cupcake. I was also slightly annoyed with them for being a total epic baking fail. But then, I’ve had those before, and they turned out OK after left in a plastic bag overnight and dipped in coffee. My family said they were super delicious.

Finally, while watching a re-run of Stephen Colbert (on which I found out that our current representative to the United Stations is Susan Rice, who is a woman of color. How did I not know this? Because that is awesome.) I decided to give in and have a teeny tiny one so that I could write this blog with the crowning glory, a picture of my TARDIS cupcake, blue on the outside and yellowish on the inside:

I call it: The TARDish

For this tiny little unrecognizable blob of yellow, I worked for an hour and covered my counter in blue batter and yellow cake goo. I’ll take it.

And that, ladies and gents, is how you make a TARDish.

Good night!