Week 44: Baking With Miss Vicki

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My baking assistant/future chaperone

Travis always says that he wishes he could set up hidden cameras and watch me bake. There would probably be a lot of swearing, back steps, and “problem solving”. He’d call it “Baking with Miss Vicki,” a name very few people are allowed to call me, and it would likely be hilarious for anyone who is not me. This week I baked a birthday cake for Travis and it went pretty darn well. It definitely meant giving up Stella’s nap, but it was for a good cause. Travis gets to pick out his birthday cake and this year he picked a gingerbread cake with a lemon-rum sauce from my favorite Colorado baking cookbook, Pie in the Sky. The woman who wrote the book tested every recipe in Colorado and made adaptations for 3k, 5k, 7k, and 10k feet above sea level. Totally fool proof. My absolute favorite brownies come from this cookbook. I used to love box brownies but now that I’ve gotten used to these I am truly a from scratch brownie snob. I taste the vegetable oil from the box brownies rather than the generous stick of butter in the scratch version and it’s just not the same. Travis and I can demolish a pan in just a few short days before they even start to think about drying out. The freezer would probably be another storage option, but we’ll enjoy our young metabolisms while they last thank you very much. And they are almost as easy as boxed brownies if you follow the directions. No good baking story ever starts with, “so, I was in a hurry…”, but seriously, I was in a big rush and thought I could whip up a double batch of brownies. As you can imagine things did not go as planned. I was 38+ weeks pregnant and one of Travis’s coworkers volunteered to take a work trip for him so he could stay home incase Stella decided to arrive early. I mean there was no way I was letting him go on a trip at that point but it was very nice of someone to step in like that so I thought I could make him thank you brownies. Who doesn’t like brownies after all. Since I was making them anyway this preggo lady figured she’d make a batch for Trav’s coworker and one for herself, naturally. Well the recipe calls for 3 eggs, so a double batch needs a whole half-dozen. I did not say these were healthy! Instead of putting in 6 eggs or forgetting to double them and adding 3, I used one egg. That’s it. Just one single egg. You would think the texture would have been like cement and given my mistake away but nope, I popped them in the oven and set the timer. When I when to check on them they looked like boiling lava. Something was not right. So I baked them a little more, flipping through the recipe to figure out my mistake, and admitted defeat as I took them out to cool. I am sure there was lots of swearing but after burning my mouth a few times I determined that the center was oddly eatable despite the outside edges being hard as a rock. Oops. I think Travis brought a bag of brownie crumble to his coworker; they tasted pretty delicious but were more of an ice cream topping than something you could hold onto and sink your teeth into. The good news about making such a big mistake on a recipe is that I won’t make the same mistake again. Every time I make these brownies I am keenly aware of the 3 eggs I add and pay very close attention to every ingredient. But there will be plenty of future recipes I will make in a hurry and destroy beyond belief. Thankfully I got my casual baking genes from my mom who famously put a pan of Palm Beach Brownies (i.e. heaven) into the oven, realized she hadn’t added the flour, pulled them out, dumped them back into the bowl, added flour, and continued on baking them. Totally salvageable. My brownies obviously weren’t but it is with this attitude that I do most of my cooking and baking. Forge on and make them most of it. Fortunately this came in handy this week with Wednesday night’s dinner plan when things did not go as planned…Meal Plan & Grocery List

Monday: Garlic Roasted Salmon & Brussels Sprouts with Brown Rice

  • Stella, Tazzie and I were flying solo a few nights this week so this seemed like a super manageable dinner for me to tackle during crappy hour with two little monkeys. Stella ate approximately none of it so maybe she doesn’t like my cooking, but I thought it was pretty darn good and very straightforward.

Tuesday: Better Broccoli Casserole with Chicken

  • A friend made this for Stella and I and it was delicious. With whole milk and shredded chicken it was a very filling and a well-balanced meal.
  • Casseroles can definitely get a bad rap, but with crunchy roasted broccoli rather than soggy steamed broccoli and the crispy topping the texture of this was exactly what a casserole should be.
  • And Stella ate a bit of quinoa and didn’t spit it out which I consider to be a victory.

Wednesday: Spaghetti & Vodka Sauce with Smoked Sausage and Green Salad

  • This was an emergency weeknight meal that I flung into action at 5:15pm when I realized that what I thought was going to be dinner was not going to happen. Funny story…Stella unplugged the crockpot right before we left for the park so my super awesome dinner plans fell through. Good thing she’s cute! So I plugged the crockpot back in, out of reach of little hands, finished cooking it minus the broccoli rabe and roasted red pepper, and served it reheated another night. I had already thrown the beans in before I realized what had happened so they were mushy but not too bad.

Thursday: Bison Filet with Red Wine Sauce, Creamy Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Roasted Asparagus and Gingerbread Cake with Warm Rum-Lemon Sauce

  • Thursday was Travis’s birthday so I tried to make a dinner full of things he loves. He picked the cake out himself but I am proud to say I sous vide (under vacuum) the bison filets and pan finished them all by myself and they were darn good. Sous vide is great because you can set the exact temperature you want your meat cooked to and it will be cooked perfectly in a water bath to rare or medium-rare which allows you to finish it off in a pan or on the grill but not have to worry about it being over done.
  • I roasted the asparagus with salt, pepper and oil for 15ish minutes at 425. They were perfect.
  • I boiled some potatoes with a few garlic cloves and mashed them up with salt, butter and half and half. Only the best for Travis so none of that low-fat stuff.

Friday: Crockpot Italian Chicken & Broccoli Rabe Chili with Garlic Bread

  • So this was an easy dinner since we had it left over:)
  • I couldn’t find broccoli rabe and Travis is not wild about it so I used kale instead which is a perfectly acceptable substitute.
  • I only used 1 ¼ lbs of chicken breast so I cut the liquid and spices in half too which worked out well.
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