Monday, March 19, 2012

Top o' the Mornin' to you!

I was in a festive mood this week, so I celebrated by whipping up a batch of Green Velvet Mint cakepops, dunked in Bittersweet Dark Chocolate.   


I started with Green Velvet batter....

...sort of like Red Velvet.  Only it's green.

Then I added some Peppermint to the batter.

Just for a special little kick.

They were delicious!

And very green.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Erin Go Bragh!

Friday, March 16, 2012

The Pioneer Woman Book Signing in Brookline, MA!

Okay, where was I? 

 Ahhh yes. The book signing with Ree Drummond.

I read her book tour schedule a few weeks ago and saw that she was coming to Boston. Calmly, I called my sister Kathy. "REE IS COMING TO BOSTON, REE IS COMING TO BOSTON"!, I shouted. Then I hung up the phone and sent her an email too.....just so she couldn't say later that I didn't tell her. 

It's a sister thing. Let it go.

In any case, knowing that Ree usually has a large number of attendees at her book signings, I wanted to make sure that we got there early.

Um. Yea. Mission accomplished with that one. We even beat Ree.

Her presentation was being held at the Coolidge Theatre just across the street from the Brookline Booksmith, from 6pm until about 7pm. It goes without saying that it was a sellout event from the moment of it's announcement. So instead of standing in front of an empty table for three hours like a couple of dorks, we decided to head across the street to grab a little dinner.

We ate at a little place in Coolidge Corner, a stone's throw from the bookstore, called the Paris Creperie. It was a tiny cafe-style establishment with phenomenal crepes! We snagged a booth by the door and while we ate our dinner, I kept a wary eye on the bookstore across the street.  It was now 5:15 pm and I suspiciously watched as groups of people crossed the street in waves to go into the theater. The Coolidge Theater holds about 350-400 people and my intention was to beat all of them back into the bookstore before the presentation was over, to get into the front of the book signing line.

It was just then when it started to rain.  Dammit.

Just short of ramming my sister Kathy's crepe up her nose, we finished our dinner and high-tailed it towards the crosswalk.  Dodging big, fat raindrops, we bolted back across busy Harvard Street, and skidded into the bookstore. To my horror, a line had already begun to form. Breaking away from my sister, I skillfully manuevered myself around an elderly woman who was sedately reading a copy of " You: Staying Young: The Owner's Manual for Extending Your Warranty", and jumped into line behind this happy couple.

Meet Carrie and BJ. Awesome couple. He's a firefighter and she's a riot. Not only did they drive two hours from Springfield, MA to meet Ree, but they kept us totally entertained with an Iphone photo montage of tornado damage to their home from last summer. Carrie and BJ were 4th and 5th in line.

My sister Kathy and I were 6th and 7th in line.
(insert fist pumping here)

 And these fabulous ladies were 8th, 9th and 10th.

(again, lots of fist pumping and high-fives)

Meet Andraya, Janine and Beth.  Andraya is Janine's gorgeous daughter and a loyal Pioneer Woman fan. While waiting in line for Ree, she softly told her mother than she was so excited her knees were shaking. So sweet. When Beth found out that her friend couldn't attend the signing,  Beth offered the ticket to Andraia (whom she didn't even know) to hear Ree speak in the theater. So nice, these PW fans. 

And then the long-awaited moment arrived.

There she is.

Looking gorgeous! 

She is even more beautiful in person.

The line started to move and before we knew it....we were next.  My sister Kathy manned the IPhone camera while I stepped up to the table with my books. I gave Ree some of my  fancy-schmancy Chocolate Covered Strawberry Cakepops (see the red bag?) and she loved them! We share the same name (Anne Marie) and that led into an easy conversation.

Did I mention that she is also gracious? (sigh)

I bought her newest cookbook as well as her romance novel, Black Heels to Tractor Wheels, and I also brought from home her first cookbook......complete with it's pages slopped with batter, frosting, cinnamon and god knows what else.

She signed them all for me.

What more can I say?  The woman's a peach.


After our books were signed, photos taken and good-byes said, Kathy and I clutched our books and grinning broadly, wove our way out of the store. At this point, there were no less than 400 people in line waiting to meet Ree. It was worse than the lines at Disney, if you can believe it.

 On the way back to the car we passed by all of them, around the store, out the door,

...and down the street wrapped around the corner.

The moral of the story? The early bird will not only score you the perfect parking space right next to the bookstore, but it will introduce you to some fun new people, maybe even a New York Times best-selling famous author, as well as get you some fabulous autographed cookbooks. 

Love ya Ree...and thanks!

Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Met Ree Drummond Tonight!

Yes I did.

For real.

She was awesome.

.....and I can't wait to tell you all about it.


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Panda Bread!

This was fun.

On the difficulty scale.....I'd give it an 8 out of 10. The challenge for me was not in assembling the Panda, but rather in getting the consistency of the dough just right. It's fun to try at least once, so get your yeast out and let's rock and roll!!

Panda Bread Dough

3 cups of flour
1 egg yolk
1 1/2 tablespoons of unsalted butter
1 cup of milk
1 tablespoon of salt
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 package active dry yeast
2 tablespoons of green tea Matcha mixed with a tablespoon of hot water
1/2 teaspoon of black food coloring mixed with a teaspoon of hot water

Add the egg yolk to the milk and microwave for 1 minute. Set aside. In a mixer (preferably one with a bread hook attachment) Blend the flour, salt, sugar and yeast. After mixing for about a minute, add the butter and milk/yolk mixture and blend on medium until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl.

Remove the dough from the mixer and split the dough into three pieces, two the same size and the third a bit smaller.

I used Green Matcha Tea to color one of the larger dough balls green.

It's a bit tricky to add color to bread dough, but if you add about a tablespoon of hot water, the mixing goes along much smoother and you get a much better result.

I used black food coloring to color the smallest dough ball. You might want to wear some gloves before doing this because it's MESSY!!!

The third dough ball isn't colored at all.....poor thing.  :)

Put each dough ball into a greased bowl, cover with clear wrap and put the bowls in a non-drafty area of your kitchen.

 Let the dough rise up until it's about double in size. You have about an hour to two hours for this to happen.......use your time wisely. Why not cut up old charge cards to use as a mosaic for your kitchen backsplash? Ya....I don't blame you. Well, you could do what I did.  Plunked myself down in front of the telly with an icy cold mug of IBC Root Beer. Yes, I did.

I wuz just bein' dang lazy that day.

When the dough has risen up enough, you are ready to roll.  Actually, it's easier to explain the Panda process in pictures......but please pardon the photography. Because I don't get in from work until 8 or 9pm some evenings, I totally miss out on photographing in natural light. So until my work schedule changes.... please enjoy these incandescent shots!!!

Once you reach this point, carefully place the dough, seam side down, into the bread
pan and cover with clear wrap. Let it rise for about an hour.

Bake at 375 degrees for 30 minutes. Once it's finished baking, turn the bread out to cool,

 then slice it up to see the Panda!!!!