Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy New Year! ... and humbling experiences in the kitchen.

Happy New Year all and I hope you all had a wonderful holiday! My husband and I were both off starting Christmas Eve, and we go back to work tomorrow. We've enjoyed our relaxing vacation and a lot of fun times with family and good friends, but now it's time to get back into the swing of things - going back to work, eating slightly more healthy (and trying to trim down for an upcoming cruise!) and not skipping as many workouts. :-)

However, I do have to say, I have one complaint about this past holiday (technically, two, but they're rolled up into one). I had not one, but two, incredibly humbling experiences in the kitchen over the holidays. I like to think of myself as a good cook - I may not always cook the healthiest, lightest stuff around but it always tastes good. I haven't royally messed anything up in a long while, but I think it's fair to admit when I do - and see what lessons I can learn for the next time!

The first, was my in-laws' holiday party. My mother in law asked me to bring a couple of things, including my gluten free pepperoni pizza puffs. Based on the number of people we expected to attend, we decided that a double batch would probably be best. Now, I was rushed that day - I came home from bootcamp at the gym and had just enough time to shower and cook before heading out to the party - and I didn't want to cook two separate batches, so I borrowed her mini muffin tins and crammed all four tins in my oven. I cooked them for the usual amount of time, figuring that since more stuff was in the oven I'd check them and see if they needed more time. Unfortunately - I'm guessing due to the fact that the tins were much closer to the side of my oven than usual - I ended up burning about half of them. Not. Cool.

So - lesson one: When doubling a batch of anything, try to keep the amount in the oven the same if possible. And if cramming more in the oven than usual, keep checking on everything starting at the halfway point! 

Anyway, the pizza puffs ended up not being quite the catastrophe that they could have been, because the party guest list was halved due to snowy weather. Still, that's so annoying!

The second, was last night. New Years' Eve. A couple of close friends had decided that a low-key night with board games was the best way to ring in 2013. We had a gluten free restriction, a vegetarian (but eggs and cheese were OK), and a white/black pepper allergy. We decided that keeping it low-key was in order, so I decided to make pizzas - I made my favorite white broccoli pizza, along with a half-cheese/half-mushroom pizza and a pepperoni pizza. I also made buffalo chicken dip, Indian relish dip, and put out a cranberry spice cheese with Glutino cinnamon bagel chips (yum - my mother in law found that combination over the holiday, and it's like crack). And I made my champagne punch, as well as a requested toxic party punch (toxic because it doesn't taste like alcohol and goes down smooth, but is extremely potent), so we were all set! We also had macaroons and amarettis from our Christmas baking extravaganza, and friends brought an awesome fruit platter!

First things first - I bought Penzey's pizza seasoning, but when I read the ingredient label I saw black pepper. You know that scene in Bridget Jones' Diary, where her boss catches her on the phone with a friend, and then catches her lying that she was talking to a dead author? .... Yeah, that was my reaction. I texted my friend quickly, asking her if she wanted a pizza with plain marinara sauce, but fortunately her allergy isn't that severe, so she said she'd take a Benadryl and to season away! So I did, but kept it on the light side.

My master plan here was to make the pizza crusts ahead of time, and then just put the toppings on them when everyone got to the house. Sounds good in theory, right? Well, unfortunately, keeping them in the oven on warm for half an hour dried out the crusts so they were hard and rather unappetizing. :-(

So - lesson two: New cooking techniques are better to be experimented on just us, first, And New Years' Resolution: Find out how to make pizza crusts ahead of time, so they can just be taken out and warmed up with toppings, and still taste great! 

Ah well. We still had a great time, played games like Cards Against Humanity and Dirty Minds, enjoyed good company and good conversation, and rang in 2013 in style. Even with my culinary mishap.

Final lesson - lesson three: Don't let a kitchen disaster ruin your night! 

Hope you all have a wonderful New Year!