Best laid plans of bakers and cooks…

Two raspberry turnoversNot too long ago, I bought a bunch of frozen puff pastry to make a holiday version of Chicken Wellington, though it was well past the holiday season. Chicken. Cranberries. Stuffing. Puff pastry. Gravy. It was a lot of fun and very tasty, in my opinion. But as a result, I had a couple of boxes of puff pastry left over in the freezer that really needed to be used up.

So on Labour Day this year, I decided I was going to cook, and bake, and see what I could come up with.

I rummaged through the freezer and managed to find a bag of frozen raspberries. Stumbling across this recipe, I decided to whip up some raspberry filling and try my hand at making some raspberry turnovers. While the filling was absolutely delicious and I’ll be reviewing the recipe for this soon on the 3girls.ca website, there was a lot of it and I found out very quickly that a little goes a long way. It’s messy and just spooning a little in the middle of the squares of pastry, then trying to fold them into triangles proved far more difficult than I had imagined. Two pastries never even made it into the oven, oozing out into my hands before making it to the cookie sheet. Two others were sacrificed to make the last two slightly larger (due to my apparent inability to cut even-sized squares!) so they could actually hold some filling.

I eventually learned if I pinched closed one side of the triangle, then held the hollow pastry up like an ice cream cone, I could spoon in a bit of the filling, then quickly pinch the other side closed, using gravity to keep the filling inside. Crazy, I know!

Regardless, I learned on Monday that while cooking seems to be an art, baking really is a science. It is TOUGH to bake and I’m not entirely cut out for it. However, the 12 out of 16 pastries that actually made it were tasty. Next time, I’d bake  them for 13 minutes instead of 15, as they did brown a bit too much on the bottoms.

Not to be dissuaded from my “roll” in the kitchen, I then pulled out all the fixings for a very easy lasagna. We had dessert, such as it was, but now we also needed dinner to have before it!

A slice of meat lasagnaI have read many websites which deplore the use of hard noodles out of a box, or even pre-manufactured noodles (even the “fresh” kind), and especially the no-bake lasagna noodles. My advice on this topic is simple: if you have the tools, know-how, skill and patience to make your own noodles, do so! There is nothing quite like homemade noodles and pasta and if you are willing to make your own, kudos to you! Unfortunately, I do not have the tools, know-how, skill or patience, so I buy my pasta and honestly, I’ve had people rave over my lasagna. I don’t do too much in the way of special steps with mine, but my point being: do what is convenient to you and what you have resources for.

With mine, I like to either combine sausage and ground beef or I like to cook up the ground beef  with all kinds of herbs, spices and other seasonings to make the meat stand out against the pasta sauce. I also enjoy adding a layer or two of frozen spinach, which also adds extra moisture (omg, it is so much better with spinach!) or even sliced mushrooms (or both).

My sauces range anywhere from spruced-up jarred sauces (with more of my own seasonings, sometimes mixed with diced tomatoes, etc.) to completely homemade. It just depends on my time restraints and level of energy. This time, I used a jarred vodka sauce and it turned out really nicely. Hubby and I both had second helpings (and I really shouldn’t have!).

For my lunch the following day, I made up a personal pita pizza and stored it in the fridge overnight. The next day, I nuked it for about 2 minutes and it was almost like having it out of the oven.

So while Labour Day is traditionally a “break day” for many people, I chose to putter around in the kitchen and see what I could whip up. And I learned a valuable lesson: don’t count your chickens before they’re hatched — or whatever the reverse of that might be, as my dire situation was reversed into a better situation than I could have hoped. When I first put the turnovers into the oven, I really thought they were going to be horrible, but in the end, they weren’t too bad for a first attempt!  Hubby went back for seconds and folks at work enjoyed them. Does this mean I’ll do more baking in the future? Maybe. But I highly doubt I will ever become a baker. It’s much too hard for me! 😉 Too… “technical”. Hehe.

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