Monday, February 13, 2012

Cream Puffs and Scooby Doo

Eating: We had many tasty dishes at bookclub potluck.  We don't do a sign up, as I have insisted it be a "true" potluck.  So far, we have always had a good mix of appetizers, salads, entrees, etc.  This year, as has happened in other years, a theme arose, purely by "luck of the pot".  We ended up with a kind of Mexican theme: tortilla soup, chicken mole, beans and other good food that coordinated well with it.  As promised, my cream puff and hot fudge sauce recipes. 

Cream Puffs - From Betty Crocker - I always feel like I am cheating because these are so easy to make.  It seems like it would be one of those difficult things but it is not.  There is a cream filling you can make for them (looks like a pudding recipe to me) but I always fill mine with ice cream, like a French profiterole.  You could also fill with a flavored (or plain) whip cream.  I like to top mine with hot fudge.  You could also just dust with powdered sugar, or spread a little chocolate frosting on top.  So many options!

Heat oven to 400.  In a 2 1/2 qt. saucepan, heat 1 C water and 1/2 C margarine or butter to a rolling boil.  Stir in 1 C flour, reduce heat.  Stir vigorously over low about 1 minute or until mixture forms a ball; remove from heat.  Beat in 4 eggs all at once; continue beating until smooth.  Drop dough by  scant 1/4 cupfuls about 3" apart onto ungreased cookie sheet (the Pampered Chef large stainless scoop works really well for this). 
Bake 35-40 minutes or until puffed and golden brown.  Cool away from draft.  Cut off top 1/3rd of each puff and pull out any filaments of soft dough (discard this - it is just eggy dough, really).  Fill with cream filling, whipped cream or wait until serving and fill with a scoop of ice cream.  If you are filling with cream, refrigerate until serving.

To make chocolate cream puffs, decrease flour to 3/4 C plus 2 T.  Mix 2 T cocoa and 1 T sugar with the flour. 

To make the cream filling: Mix 1/3 C sugar, 2 T cornstarch, and 1/8 t salt in 2 qt saucepan.  Gradually stir in 2 C milk.  Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and boils.  Boil and stir 1 minute.  Gradually stir in at least half of the hot mixture into 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten.  Stir into hot mixture in the saucepan.  Boil and stir 1 minute; remove from heat.  Stir in 2 T margarine or butter and 2 t vanilla.  Cool.

World's Easiest Hot Fudge Sauce - Okay, I don't know if this is the easiest recipe in the world but that is the title of it, from Weight Watchers Best Ever Desserts.  2 T of sauce = 2 points under the old system.  (114 cal, 7g fat, 4 g sat fat, 0g trans fat, 1mg chol, 58 mg sod, 15g carb, 2 g fib, 2 g protein, 29mg Calc),
Combine 1 C fat-free half-and-half, 2 T light corn syrup and a pinch of salt in a heavy medium saucepan, set over med-high heat.  Bring just to a boil, whisking until smooth.  Remove from heat and whisk in 8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate (finely chopped) until melted and smooth.  Return mixture to a boil, whisking constantly; boil about 1 minute.  Remove from heat and whisk in 1/2 t vanilla.  Use immediately or cool to room temperature.  Transfer to a covered container; refrigerate up to one month.  Gently reheat before serving.

Reading: I am about half-way through False Mermaid, the latest mystery by Erin Hart.  I am enjoying it pretty well, and want to find out whodunit.  But as with any mystery, I am just waiting for the "bad guy" to point to Scooby Doo and the gang and say, "And I would have got away with it if it hadn't been for those meddling kids!"  Maybe that is what I don't like about mysteries... 

Next up, I will start The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly.  I haven't even looked at it yet to be able to say what it is about but know that it is a children's book and believe it is historical fiction.  This is the book for Sunday bookclub this month. 

That's all for now.  I am off to Mini Medical School at the U of M now.  This is a series (2.5 hrs every Monday evening for 5 weeks) offered twice a year, open to the public (for a fee, of course).  This time the topics are all brain related - last week it was Traumatic Brain Injuries, and studies related to detecting and treating seizures in dogs (also using the device for humans).  This week, ummm... I can't remember what the 2 talks are about, but something brain related.  I have attended these in the past about 6-8 times but not in 4 years.  It is topics related to work, so is ongoing learning for me, but also something to challenge my brain and I do enjoy it.  Last week, they had samples of brains for us to examine (hold and look at).  When does the public get a chance to hold a brain in their hands?  Fascinating stuff!

Until next time,
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