We've all become at-home chefs during quarantine, right?! That's one thing I have enjoyed out of the crummy circumstances the coronavirus pandemic has put us in; I've been cooking and baking much more because I'm home and not traveling. The. pandemic hit right around my birthday. Actually, my birthday was a 10-ish hour work day on a bus, at a ball field and on a bus, and then it hit. So, pretty horrible birthday week. Once everything was shut down, I wanted to treat myself with a birthday treat, so I made a confetti custard pie, stuck a candle in it and enjoyed a tiny bit of birthday fun.
For dinners, I tried two recipes from Half Baked Harvest that I am obsessed with! The first was 20 Minute Orzo Carbonara with Crispy Prosciutto and Burrata. This truly only takes about 20 minutes and it's amazingly good. If I ever get dining room chairs and have folks over for dinner, this is absolutely what I'm making. I've never had prosciutto like this, and honestly, I like it more than bacon! So delicious, so easy. And it was great for me because I can make a bit and heat it up for a day or two.
The other Half Baked Harvest dinner recipe that has become my favorite is Crockpot Carne Asada Tacos. I did not make the sauce and did not use steak. I rarely buy beef. I usually always eat venison because it's free, lean and delicious. So, for this recipe I replaced the steak with a venison roast. I usually have small roasts that are perfect size for me and those worked perfect. It was from my deer I got this past Thanksgiving, and there's just something about enjoying your own game! Usually I can't get venison to hold flavor too well, but this is easily the best venison I have ever had. I also modified the recipe by putting this on nachos and adding some homemade guacamole. I plan on making it again this weekend as tacos with some feta cheese.
I did eat beef a little bit when I picked up some steak and paired it with sweet potatoes, HBH's 5 Ingredient Beer Bread, salad and some red wine. What a perfect meal.
I've been baking, too. When the quarantine first started, I baked funfetti cupcakes with custard filling and chocolate frosting and delivered them around to co-workers as a pick-me-up. I had cute little treat boxes and everything. That was my little way to bring some joy during a very stressful, lonely time. I think everyone was very appreciative and liked the moment I was there to see a familiar face and have a quick chat. At Easter I also made cupcakes, almond with dark chocolate ganache filling and raspberry buttercream. I didn't have my piping tools, so the frosting wasn't the prettiest, but they still tasted great! For my friend's birthday, we wanted to get together and picnic at a local park. Everyone brought snacks, chairs, and we just relaxed and had a very nice, low-key celebration. For that, I let the birthday girl pick her dessert and it was just what I wanted to make! I baked a vanilla layer cake with a mixed berry compote and lemon buttercream. Oh. My. Goodness. Was that the perfect summer cake or what?! I forgot to restock my piping bags, so couldn't coat the whole cake, hence the "naked" look. It was light and refreshing. I will definitely make that one again down the road. And I loved the simple decoration of frosted berries on top.
My favorite type of cookies are French macarons, which can be tough to make. The first time I made them they came out okay, but the second time was not so good. I had some cream cheese buttercream left over from a red velvet layer cake that I made for a friend, so I needed something to use it up. Macaron filling was perfect. I made chocolate macarons with the cream cheese buttercream and they came out great! The flavor and texture was amazing. Some tops weren't as smooth as they should be, but I was very happy with my accomplishment!
I had another friend who was planning on a birthday parade for her cutest-ever twins three-year-olds, and she wanted an easy treat to hand out to everyone who came. I gladly offered to help and she came up with the idea of Rice Krispie treats in the shape of 3's dipped in rainbow sprinkles. Easy! Rice Krispie treats are the quickest, easiest thing to make, so I had a lot of fun creating these and sharing. I know she was so appreciative and everyone enjoyed them and thought it was a cute idea. It was really, really hot the day of the party, so these treats were ideal. I'm always willing and glad to bake treats when occasions arise!
"To accomplish great things, we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe." --Anatole France