11 Silpat Nonstick Silicone Baking Mat Review

I used to grease my cookie sheets.  I tried non-stick baking sheets.

Then I discovered parchment paper.

When I saw a deal on Amazon to buy 3 items and get one free, I decided to treat myself and buy 3 Silpat baking mats.  Amazon has the best deal on these that I've seen and free shipping doesn't hurt, either!

I've had these mats for about six months and I love them!

My Chocolate Chip Cookies cooked through perfectly...

and they browned beautifully on the bottoms, which surprised me.

I've baked dozens of rolls on these mats with great results.

You can use and re-use these mats and I love that I can immediately move the cookies and put the mat on a cooled pan (you don't want to put raw cookie dough on a hot pan!).

To clean them, just use a little dishwashing soap on a hot, wet rag, wipe the surface clean and rinse it clean under warm water.  Give it a little shake and let it air dry.

As easy as these mats are to use, they need a little TLC.

1.  Do not use in an oven hotter than 450º F.
2.  Do not use the mat for ANY cutting.
3.  Store the mat flat when not in use.  (I store them in my baking sheets.)

I am sure there are many other uses for this great mat.  What have you used it for?
How long have you had your mats and are they still working well?

I would love to hear from you ~


3 Baked Onion Rings Review

Aren't they cute?  Pictured are three of the thirty or so Japanese high school students that  I help chauffeur around Utah for the next several weeks.

I am having a blast taking them around Utah, seeing Cats and Tarzan (the musicals), Zion's Canyon, and river rafting in Moab.

Unfortunately, I am not home very often and have little time or engergy for baking or cooking.

I have only recently learned to enjoy fried onions.  I was stuck in a long line at the Outback restaurant and they offered free Bloomin' Onions to those waiting.  I was starving and was willing to give them a try.

I fell in love.

I've had my eye on Martha Stewart's Everyday Food Baked Onion Rings for some time.

I had a hard time getting the cornflake/bread crumb coating to stay on the onion rings and here is the final result...

The flavor was so-so and I definitely missed the crunch of an all-around coating. 

Sorry, Martha... I will be sticking with PW's Onion Straws!


7 Confessions...

More than half of my cookie dough, especially chocolate chip, never actually makes it to the oven...


3 Bread Proofing

I love this clear, square Rubbermaid container that my friend found at Sam's Club.

It comes in a two-pack with lids and she gave me one, knowing I would use it for raising my bread dough.

It works really well, showing me when my dough had doubled and was ready for shaping!

Break resistant and dishwasher safe is great, too ~

Did you know that square containers can hold up to 25% more than its round counterparts?

It's good to be square.


12 Fire!!

Last February, my husband started a huge project ~ building his own brick oven.

You can see the humble beginnings here.

We are proud to announce that we have built our first fire!

What started out as a hole became a foundation, walls and a top.

This year, he was able to start the floor of the oven...

which morphed into an igloo of sorts.

A door was added and framing was begun.

All we needed was a chimney and we were good to go!

As part of the curing process, we need to start a small fire and gradually work our way up to a rip roaring 900 degree bonfire ~

Here's hoping we will have some yummy pizzas and artisan breads in our future...


2 A Winner!

Thank you all for entering my latest giveaway, sponsored by CSN Stores!  I loved reading the comments and seeing what each of you would buy if you were randomly selected as a winner!  

I went to Random.org and plugged in the number 84, the total number of comments...

and it came up with comment #40, who is....


Debbie, who said, "I'd get the Art 4 Kids Planets in Orbit Wall Art for my son's bedroom."

Congratulations, Debbie!

I will be sending you an email.  Happy shopping!

Thank you all for following me on your reader and through Face Book ~ 


9 Red Bell Pepper Cream Sauce

A friend of mine told me that she ordered pasta with a red pepper cream sauce that was "to die for."

That sounds spicy, I told her.  

"No, not at all.  It's made with red bell peppers, and they are sweet."

I hunted for a recipe and found one on the Food Network.

Though the recipe doesn't call for roasted red bell peppers, I thought, why not?

I combined the peppers and heavy cream in a heavy bottomed pot.

You need a pot with a thick bottom to prevent scorching.

Bring the cream to a boil.

The recipe doesn't say, but I like to stir constantly anytime I'm cooking with milk.  

I don't want it to burn.

After a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until liquid is reduced by half.

Add some paprika, lemon juice, salt, white pepper, and just a teeny pinch of cayenne.

Add more cayenne if you like it HOT.

Put into a blender, food processor, or if you're lucky, an immersion blender does the trick.  It is so much easier to clean than the other two appliances I mentioned!

I served this sauce over some linguini pasta and a side of pan fried tilapia.  

I took a taste.  My hubby took a taste.

Creamy.  Sweet.  Just a little 'kick' in the back of my mouth from the cayenne.

Roasted Red Bell Pepper Cream Sauce


2 Kitchen Tip: Roasting Red Peppers

I was gifted with three large red bell peppers from a family member.  My family does not particularly like bell peppers.

I remembered seeing Martha Stewart roasting red peppers on her stove many years ago.

If you love torching your marshmallows on an open fire, you'll love roasting these peppers!

Roasting peppers is very easy.  If you don't have a gas stove, you can use your oven and roast these in 15-20 minutes as Cookin' Canuck demonstrates in this post.

I stuck a fork in the top of the pepper to be able to turn it around as it cooks.

You can use tongs, if you wish.

Make sure EVERY bit of the pepper is black.  Prepare to hear some popping noises as the moisture escapes from the pepper.

Place the burnt pepper in a paper sack, fold down the top and let it steam for ten minutes.

After ten minutes, remove the blackened skins.

I like to use a paper towel.

Restrain yourself from rinsing the peppers under water!
You will lose the roasted taste if you do.

The top core pops out easily.

Slice the pepper open and with a knife, scrape the seeds and membranes out.

Roll up the pepper and slice thinly.

It is that simple.


Stay tuned for the recipe that I used these for... and for the verdict from my non-loving red pepper family ~


4 New Dinner Roll Shape: Swirls

This is my new favorite dinner roll shape.

It looks like a rosebud.

It would be perfect for bridal showers or wedding dinners.

And it is incredibly easy to make!

This piece of dough is from my Orange Roll recipe.

You can use any favorite dinner roll recipe.

1.5 ounces of dough (or 1/24 of the recipe) is rolled out into a 9" log, snake, stick, or whatever you want to call it.

Pick up one end and coil it around...

and tuck the free end under the roll.

Place the roll in a greased muffin tin.  Looks like a tiny little cinnamon bun ~

Cover with plastic wrap, let rise and bake as directed in the recipe.

While baking, the centers will push up, creating this beautiful, lovely shape.

I drizzled an orange glaze on the cooled roll and gave them to my good friend.

The same friend who gave me this plate last Christmas.

Check here for my other roll shapes.


3 Fresh Vanilla Bean Ice Cream: No Eggs!

My sister in law gave me some vanilla beans for Christmas last year.  I have been waiting for the perfect recipe and this is it!

Most of the ice creams I made last year are custard based ~ made with egg yolks that are slowly heated on the stove.  If you are not careful, you will end up with a scrambled egg mess.  This recipe is eggless and so easy to make.  You will still end up with a creamy ice cream full of vanilla flavor that melts in your mouth.

I reduced the sugar in this recipe.  Don't worry, it's plenty sweet.

5.5 ounces is perfect.

If you don't have a scale, it is just shy of 3/4 cup.

This is the first time I have ever worked with vanilla beans.

First, I split the bean down the middle.

Don't go all the way through to the other side, like I did.

Using the flat side of the knife (the dull edge), scrape the inside of the bean all the way...

Here are zillions of tiny little seeds, ready for my ice cream!

Dump the vanilla seeds and pod into the milk mixture:  half and half, whipping cream, and sugar.

Heat and stir till it reaches 170ºF.

Don't have a thermometer?  Don't worry.  Heat the milk until you see a bubble hit the surface, then remove.  Do not boil the milk.

The milk mixture is allowed to sit in the fridge over night to mellow and blend the flavors.

The next day, I remove the vanilla bean hull and pour it into my Cuisinart ice cream maker.  Twenty minutes later, I have  a soft serve ice cream that is fabulous.  Put it in a freezer safe container in the freezer for a few hours and you get a creamy, scoopable ice cream.

What could be more perfect than vanilla bean ice cream?

Chocolate cones, of course!

Remember to enter my fantastic $60 giveaway HERE.  Ends July 17, 2010.

Vanilla Bean Ice Cream
(4x6 recipe download)   (full page printable recipe)
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