Sunday, December 27, 2009

A little break..

I hope all my blogger friends have had a wonderful Christmas and will have a Happy New Year!! I will be back after the new year, hopefully, with a couple of changes!!

Happy New Year!!

April

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Cookie Finale-Gingerbread Men


Well, now, the past 12 weeks have past by so quickly, haven't they? Luckily, my family loves cookies and they didn't get tired of them, they are actually wondering which ones are next!

I am a firm believer that gingerbread men are a must on a cookie platter! They just make me smile when I see them. And maybe everyone doesn't like gingerbread, but they are so festive who can resist biting off their head or arm or maybe even the leg? :)


I have had so much fun baking along with Megan, Barbara, Megan, Kim and Denise these last weeks! You never knew what would be their choice of cookie each week and all of them are on my to make list! Thank you for cookie baking with me!!

Gingerbread
2/3 C brown sugar, packed
2/3 C molasses
1 t Ginger
1 t Cinnamon
1/2 t crushed cloves
3/4 T baking soda
2/3 C butter, softened
1 egg
5 C all purpose flour

Heat brown sugar, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves to boiling point. Remove from heat, add baking soda, and pour over butter in a large mixing bowl. Stir until butter is melted, then stir in egg and flour thoroughly. Knead for a few minutes, then gather dough into a ball. Refrigerate dough until firm enough to roll easily. Roll on a lightly floured board and cut with shaped cutter of choice. Place on greased cookie sheet or parchment and bake in 325 degree oven for 8-12 minutes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

How cute are these? I saw them on Giverslog and knew that I wanted to make them! Abby and I made them yesterday for her class and I can't wait to make more of them and play with it a little. We made these in ice cube trays, but want to try them in a sucker mold.

Instead of a packet of hot chocolate, you use one of these in a cup of hot milk! It can't get any easier than that! I did see somewhere where they flavored the white chocolate with raspberry oil, so they had raspberry hot chocolate on a stick! I am thinking peppermint! :)


Hot chocolate on a Stick

8 oz chocolate, any kind, milk, semi sweet, white
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Once it is melted, remove from the heat and add the cocoa, sugar and salt. Mix it until it is all combined. It will get really thick...like a frosting consistency. Once it is all mixed put the mixture into a baggie and snip of the corner and pipe it into your mold. I used a standard ice cube tray. Tap the ice tray on the counter to smooth it out and so that it can settle . Insert a stick and put it into the freezer for a few minutes until the chocolate hardens. Decorate it by dipping it into other chocolates or leave it plain.

Stir the stick into a 1 cup of hot milk, until it is dissolved.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies-Week 11

We are at week 11, just one more week to go! I still have so many more cookies that I want to make!!
This week I give you one of my favorites! These are really easy to make and will add a little wow factor on your platter. You can add the chocolate drizzle or leave them plain. Just make sure that you really drain and pat your cherries dry before you wrap the dough around them, or it won't stick.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

1 10oz jar maraschino cherries with stems, drained and juice reserved

1 Tbsp cherry juice

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 egg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer on medium high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder; beat until combined. Beat in the egg and 1 tsp reserved cherry juice. Beat in as much flour as you can with mixer, stir in any remaining flour with wooden spoon.

Shape a scant 1 tsp of dough around each cherry. Place in 1 inch paper or foil baking cups and place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the top looks dry.

Top with melted chocolate or your favorite chocolate glaze and top if sprinkles, if desired.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sugar Glazed Almonds

Why is it that we only make tons of baked goods and candies at Christmas time? Sure, we think of then at the other holidays too, but for the most part at Christmas we make triple the amount. Don't get me wrong, I love it! I have made these for years. They are simple, and you can change up the flavor..add some orange zest, add some cinnamon or even rose water. Or just leave them plain and they taste like a honey roasted peanut, only in almond form.

Would someone please take them away from me, I can't stop eating them!!

Sugar Glazed Almonds

1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole almonds

Set aside an ungreased baking sheet. In a heavy 2-quart skillet, combine water and sugar. Place over high heat and stir with a wooden spoon until mixture comes to a boil. Add almonds and stir continuously. Reduce heat to medium and stir almonds until mixture foams and turns to sugar. (This takes about 10-15 minutes.) Continue stirring as almonds become coated with sugar; sugar will begin to remelt and caramelize on the almonds. Remove from heat and turn out onto baking sheet. Using 2 forks, separate almonds into single nuts. Cool.

Variations:
For Glazed Orange-add 2 Tbsp grated orange zest at the beginning of cooking.
For Cinnamon-Add 1/4 tsp cinnamon at the beginning of cooking.
For Rose Water-At the end of cooking, sprinkle nuts with 2 tsp rose water and stir well.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Orange Vanilla Shortbread

We are at week 10 of thee 12 weeks of Christmas cookies. When we first started this, I thought it would take forever to finish it up, but now we only have 2 more weeks! There have been so many great cookie recipes during this and can't wait to see what the next weeks bring!
I saw this recipe in Sherry Yards book The Secret of Baking and was curious about the use of Orange Blossom Water. I had never seen it, much less needed to use it in a recipe. I knew that I wanted to try it. That was about a year ago. I don't know why I haven't made them sooner. I really like the flavor of them. They have a base of orange flavor with a little hint of a floral scent. And then the vanilla mellows it all out. The recipe said to roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick and cut into a shape, freeze for 15 minutes then bake. I chose to bake them in an 8x8 square dish and cut them into squares. They turned out a little more fluffy than the shortbread that I have made before. Maybe it is because I didn't roll it out? Not sure, but they still taste yummy! I think I might like to make this recipe and adapt it to this flavor.
Remember to see what Megan, Barbara, Megan, Denise and Kim baked up this week!
Orange Vanilla Shortbread
By: Sherry Yard
2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 Tbsp finely grated orange zest
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp orange flower water
1 large egg, at room temperature
Sift together flour and baking soda in medium bowl and set aside
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Add the sugar, vanilla extract and scraped seeds from the bean, orange zest, salt and orange flower water. Cream on medium speed until it is smooth and lump free, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
Add the egg and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, or until fully incorporated. Do not overbeat. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
On low speed, add the flour mixture. Beat until all the dry ingredients are incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. The dough will be gooey. Remove the dough from the mixer, scrape it onto a sheet of plastic film, press it into a 1/2-1 inch thick disk, wrap tightly, and chill for at least 1 hour. At this point, the dough will keep nicely, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month. (Thaw frozen dough at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until you can slice it.)
Dust a work surface lightly with flour. Place the dough between 2 sheets of lightly floured parchment paper, roll it out 1/4 inch thick, and freeze it for at least 2 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
When the dough has frozen, carefully peel off the parchment and place the dough on a work surface dusted lightly with flour. Dip a 3 inch round cookie cutter in flour, then cut out the cookies. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets, alternating the rows like a checkerboard. Return the dough to the freezer for 15 minutes or more whenever it becomes too sticky to cut.
Bake one sheet at a time for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown around the edges, turning the sheet front to back halfway through the baking. Remove from the oven and carefully slide the parchment directly onto a work surface. Wait at least 5 minutes before serving or 30 minutes before storing the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cake Cookies-Week 9!


I saw this recipe for these cookies in a magazine that called for a cake mix, an egg, and a carton of cool whip. The cool whip got the best of my curiosity and I had to try them out. They turned out so good that a friend and I made 4 different flavors and each batch made 4 dozen, so I was stuck with 16 dozen cookies! There could be worse things, I guess. :)
These cookies are really soft and chewy, a little messy because of the powdered sugar, but so worth it. These will definitely be going on my platters! The cake mixes we used were chocolate fudge, strawberry, orange and spice cake. I have a lemon to make and I want to try pineapple upside down.
We are coming along with out 12 weeks of Christmas, we are at week 9 and have seen some really awesome cookies!
Cake Cookies
1 box cake mix, any flavor
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 (8 oz) Cool Whip, thawed
2 cups powdered sugar
Mix the cake mix, egg, and cool whip together until combined. This will be thick, but not so thick that you can roll it into balls. Put the powdered sugar into a shallow bowl.
Once you mix the dough, put the scoops of dough into the powdered sugar and roll it to coat. You can shape it once it is covered with the powdered sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This week, I asked the hubby what kind of cookie he wanted and he wanted something with peanut butter and chocolate. Honestly, I wanted him to tell me something that was sort of a challenge for me to find a recipe for this week, but I guess you really can't do that with cookie. I guess this really was a little challenge for me, because I haven't found that perfect peanut butter cookie recipe yet. This one is close, and will do, but I am always looking for new ones. :)

I found this recipe in one of my cookie magazines and was curious about it because there is no butter, I am guessing that the peanut butter takes that place, and there is only 1/4 cup of flour. This told me that it would probably be moist and chewy in the middle. And yes, I was right. With little spreadage, and a crisp outside, with the chewy in the middle, they did hit the spot. The first thing that came out the oldest sons mouth as soon as he popped one in his mouth was, mmmmmmm. I took that as a thumbs up! Will these go on my cookie platters? Probably!!
Don't forget my other cookie baker's this week, we are almost to the end girls! :)
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a mixing bowl beat peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, and baking soda until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Stir in flour and chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Place balls on an ungreased cookie sheet (do not use an insulated cookie sheet); flatten slightly with fingers.
Bake in preheated oven about 10 minutes or until cookies are puffed and lightly browned around edges (centers will be soft). Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; cool completly. Makes 2 dozen.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cinnamon Bun Scones

I am a firm believer in homemade scones. The ones that you buy out at the store or coffee shops, that are dry and crumbly and make you choke, are just not for me. Now, the hubby on the other hand, isn't really a fan at all of scones. He calls them fu-fu food. Let me rephrase that..until now, he was not a fan. I think that he ate half of them, and my boys ate them for breakfast this morning. I am positive that they will be requested again and again. :)
I found this recipe from the book A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman. I have made a few things from this book and so far so good. If you haven't seen it, you really should. It is full of yummy, yummy things! I didn't follow the directions exactly, though...but they still came out great. The directions say to mix the dry ingredients in the food processor, dump them out and make a well in the center, then put the wet ingredients and combine. I bypassed all of this and mixed everything in my mixer with a paddle attachment. It mixed up perfectly! :) You also scoop these out with an ice cream scoop, so I am thinking mini's would be great too!
Cinnamon bun Scones
By: Marcy Goldman
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
3/4 to 1 cup whipping cream
Cinnamon Dip
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups confectioner's sugar
Whipping cream or milk, as required
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stack two baking sheets together and line top sheet with parchment paper. Arrange oven rack to upper third position.
In a food processor, add flour, sugar, salt and baking powder and blend briefly. Add butter and pulse to make a coarse, grainy mixture.
Turn out mixture into a large bowl. Make a well in center and stir in vanilla, eggs, and whipping cream to make a soft dough. If it is stiff, add more cream.
Using an ice cream scoop, deposit 15 to 20 scones on prepared baking sheets,or use a smaller 2 Tbsp cookie scoop and deposit 3 dozen baby scones.
Bake until scones are puffy and golden brown, about 22 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, for Cinnamon Dip, whisk together all ingredients until you have a thick but drippy glaze. Add more confectioner's sugar or cream as required.
Cool scones to warm and then dip into Cinnamon Dip. Dip scones again once topping is set.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Vanilla Bean Angel Pillows



I chose this cookie recipe from last years Better Homes and Garden Christmas Cookie magazine. I'm glad that I keep these year from year just for this reason..even if it is 8 years from now, I now that I will find something that I haven't made yet or maybe I will have made the same recipe 10 times. The bottom line here, I guess, is that I really have an addiction. I just had this conversation this week with a friend, and I am glad to know that I am not the only one with this problem. :)



I love the look of the vanilla bean speckles! :)


These cookies are just what the title describes, vanilla bean pillows. They are light and crumbly and sweet, but more buttery than sweet. Once you bite into it, the vanilla sugar on the outside sticks to your lips and chin...really, it get everywhere..but I think it just adds to the yumminess! The recipe said that this would yield 28 cookies, and that is exactly what I got. I normally go for the ones that make more than that, but I couldn't pass these up. These will be going on my platters this year, and maybe I will roll some of them in red and green sugars.


Don't forget to see what Megan, Barbara, Megan, Kim, and Denise baked up this week!


Vanilla Bean Angel Pillows

From Better Home and Gardens

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise

1 cup cold butter, cubed

1/4 cup vanilla sugar*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, combine flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Cover and process until combined.

Using the tip of a sharp knife, scrape pulp from vanilla bean. Add vanilla pulp to the flour mixture; add butter. Cover and process with several on/off pulses until mixture starts to cling, stopping once to scrape bowl. Gather mixture into a ball.

Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in a preheated oven about 12 minutes or just until edges start to brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool for 5 minutes.

Place vanilla sugar in a small bowl. While cookies are warm, roll them in vanilla sugar to coat. Cool completely on wire rack. Makes about 28 cookies.

*To make vanilla sugar, in a small bowl, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 week, giving it a shake every once in awhile.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls

I probably think that these are the best cinnamon rolls that I have ever had! I made these with my friend, that I do the dinner club thing with, and we froze them. We made up the dough, let it rise, rolled it out and put the butter, sugar and cinnamon, rolled them back up, gave them a quick slice. We then put them in our pan and stuck them in the freezer. I had no idea if they would turn out or not. I pulled them out of the freezer about an hour before I was going to bake them. They thawed out in this hour and had just started to rise some more when I put them in the oven for their 15 minute bake. They puffed up perfectly! I had 20 of them in my pan and every one of them were eaten! I will now have them in my freezer at all times!!

One of the things that I really liked about this recipe was that 1.)it was simple and 2) this recipe makes a ton of them! The only thing I changed on this recipe was the maple glaze. I just went with the standard vanilla glaze, I am thinking a cream cheese glaze next time will be in order!

With The Pioneer Woman's book just coming out, this was the perfect time to try these out. The only thing that I have seen on her book is that it is wonderful! I'm thinking that I am going to have to bring one home to be part of the family! :)

Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls

1 quart of whole milk
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast
8+1 cups of all-purpose flour
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1 "scant" tsp baking soda
1 heaping Tbsp of salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups melted butter
1 cup of sugar
generous sprinkling of cinnamon

Mix the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a pan. "Scald" the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point.) Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but not hot, sprinkle in both packages of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 8 cups of all purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.

Add 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it-overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to splurge out of the pan, just punch it down.)

Sprinkle surface generously with flour. Take half the dough and form a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle melted butter over the dough. Now sprinkle sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon. Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam to the roll to seal it. Spread 1 Tbsp of melted butter in seven round, foil cake or pie pans. Then begin cutting rolls approximately 3/4 to 1 inch thick and laying them int he buttered pans. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Let the rolls rise for 20-30 minutes, then bake at 400 degrees until light golden brown, about 15-18 minutes.

Maple Frosting

1 bag of powdered sugar
2 tsp maple flavoring
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup brewed coffee
1/8 tsp salt

Mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. It should be thick but pourable. Taste and adjust as needed. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls. Go crazy and don't skimp on the frosting! :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

This week I chose to go simple. The classic chocolate chip cookie. I made this recipe from Emeril Lagasse's book, There's a chef in my Soup. This is the only recipe that I have made from this book, and probably won't make them again. The taste is fine, but it is just now what I want in a CC cookie. I want a slightly crisp outside and a chewy middle. These just were all crunchy.

I also did a little experiment. Normally, I only will bake on my baking stones. I love them, the bottoms don't burn. I baked half on the baking stone and the other half I baked on parchment paper on a regular aluminum cookie sheet. Here are the differences I found, the ones on the stone didn't brown on the bottoms, but they did spread. The ones on the parchment, stayed more round with hardly any spreading, but they did brown on the bottom. I am curious on how you bake your cookies? I would love to know!

Make sure to go and see the other cookie bakers!!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
By: Emeril
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla1 large egg
1 1/2 cups chocolate chip cookies

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

Place the butter, sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream the ingredients on high speed. Scape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add the vanilla and egg and mix on medium speed. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until batter is stiff-don't overdo it.

Turn off the mixer and, using a large spoon or plastic spatula, fold in the chocolate chips. Using a tablespoon, scoop about 2 spoonfuls of the dough into a ball and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, keeping the scoops about 2 inches apart. Using your fingers or the back of the spoon, press down on each ball of dough to slightly flatten.Bake on 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly brown.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Granola Breakfast Bread

This is the time of year when I want to make bread the most. Any type of bread will do, as long as I am making it. I found this recipe in Dorie's book BFMHTY and it is originally called Oatmeal Breakfast Bread, but I have some left over granola from Bear Naked, btw, if you haven't tried their granola, you should, it is fantastic! But, as I was saying, I had this leftover granola that is vanilla flavored with some almonds and thought it would work just fine...it did! I also left out the dried fruit, just because I didn't have any, but the next time this is made, I am going to add it. I know it will make it even better! I made 4 mini loaves from this one batch, which means that I can get 4 neighbor gifts out of it. That is if I can keep the hubby and kids out of it...or myself!!



Oatmeal Breakfast Bread
By: BFMHTY

For the topping:
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup walnuts or pecans
1/4 tsp cinnamon

For the bread:
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
1/4 cup buttermilk or whole milk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2 cup diced dried figs, apples or apricots or moist, plump raisins
1 cup old-fashioned oats

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x5 inch loaf pan, or a mini loaf pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Put the pan on a baking sheet.

To make the topping: In a small bowl, using your fingers, toss together the sugar, nuts and cinnamon until evenly mixed, set aside.

To make the bread: Whisk together the eggs, applesauce, oil and buttermilk until well blended.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cloves. Remove 1/2 tsp of the mix and toss it with the fruit, just to coat; set aside. Stir the oats into the bowl. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and, using a large rubber spatula, stir just until everything is evenly moistened-this is a case where less is more, so don't overdo the mixing. Scatter the dried fruit over the batter and stir to blend. Scrape the batter into the pan and sprinkle over the topping, tamping it down very lightly with your fingers so it sticks.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the bread is beautifully browned and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the bread to a rack to cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pan and unmold. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

**Since I made my loaves in a mini loaf pan, it baked in about 30-35 minutes.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Peanut Butter Blossoms- Week 5


We are at week 5 of the Christmas cookies, and it amazes me how fast time flies! Sometimes, I am in need of a quick cookie recipe that I can just throw together. You know, those that you have all the ingredients in the pantry and you don't need to wait on the butter to soften to room temperature? This cookie is that one.


My friend and I have started this dinner club and the whole point of it is to fellowship with each other and make meals for the freezer. A couple of hours in and we had 3 meals and bread sticks for our freezer. While we were busy making dinners, the hubbies and kiddos needed something sweet. These were the perfect thing. They were quick to make and put into the oven, and I think that they disappeared just as quick!


Wonder what my other cookie bakers have made this week?


Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

Makes 4 dozen


1/2 cup shortening3

/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 egg

2 Tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp saltgranulated sugar

48 Hershey Kisses, unwrapped


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


Using an electric mixer, beat shortening and peanut butter together until creamy. Add both sugars, beating until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beating dry ingredients into wet mixture until dough forms.


Using your hands, shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll shaped balls in granulated sugar; turning completely to coat. Place sugared balls of dough into a greased mini muffin pan.


Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until cookies turn a very pale brown. Immediately remove pan from oven and press a kiss into the center of each cookie. Carefully remove and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

French Macarons-Daring Bakers

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I was excited about this challenge, I have been wanting to make these for a long time. But, as it looks like my little bites of heaven turned out..unfortunately, they did not. This picture is as good as it gets, my friends. The taste was wonderful, looks like I did get the feet, or I should say more of a ruffle...but every one of them stuck and crumbled.

I won't give up on these though. I will try again...someday. :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Chewy Chocolate Cookies-week 4



This week I chose to make these cookies from the new Holiday Taste of Home Magazine. I love this time of year when all the holidays start, although, I wish it didn't come and go so fast. I made these cookies three days ago and they are still chewy in the middle. I am guessing that it is from the 2 1/2 sticks of butter it uses!! Oh well, I didn't say that they were healthy! :)



My one gadget that I have to have when I am making cookies is my little cookie scoop. I use it with almost every cookie that I make, unless it is a slice and bake, but you know, sometimes I am a little impatient to let my dough chill, and I use the scoop anyway. With this batch of dough, I got 6 dozen cookies out of it! So, if you need a good cookie that makes alot, this one is it!



Need some more cookie ideas? Check out my other cookie bake along friends! They are listed on my side bar.








Chewy Chocolate Cookies



1 1/4 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips




In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.




Combine flour, cocoa,, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.




Bake at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes or until edges are set. Cool on pans for 1 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.







Friday, October 16, 2009

Nutella Swirl- Week 3!

I have a confession, I adore Nutella. I actually have a problem. I could eat it on anything, really, my favorite way is right out of the jar with a spoon. When I saw these from The Doubled Dipped Life, I knew I had to make them for this weeks cookie recipe. Actually, these looked so good, Barbara had the same idea that I did!

I had a little trouble with these cookies. I found the dough to be really soft and sticky. I chilled it for a good 30 minutes before rolling it out. Once I started to roll it out, I had to add more flour. Once I finally got it rolled, without sticking, I went to spread the Nutella, this took a little patience. I would start to spread it and my dough would rip. Finally, I got it spread, and rolled the dough, I stuck the roll in the freezer for about 20 minutes to make for easy slicing. My roll was really skinny, but they baked up nicely. After slicing, I got right at 20 cookies. The taste, I wasn't crazy about them. I don't know what it was..maybe I was just frustrated with my dough sticking..but, today, they are really good! I'm glad I didn't throw them out!

Make sure and check out Megan, Barbara, Megan, Kim and Denise to see what they have baked up this week!

Nutella Swirl Cookies
From:The Double Dipped Life

1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1 heaped cup sifted all purpose flour
1/4 cup Nutella
2-3 Tbsp chopped toasted hazelnuts, I left these out

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the butter and sugar together until creamy. Mix in the egg yolk and vanilla. The mixture should be light and well combined. Stir in the flour and refrigerate dough for at least 15 minutes for easy rolling.

Next, roll out the dough into a rectangle of 1/4 inch thickness. Spread the Nutella, leaving 1/4 inch space on all four sides. Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts over the Nutella. Roll up the dough jelly roll style. Refrigerate another 10 minutes before slicing. Slice into 1/2 inch thick slices. Put on baking sheet about 2 inches apart and bake 12-15 minutes until slightly golden around the edges.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Snickerdoodle Blossoms

I first saw Denise make these,then Ingrid twisted my arm to make these, so I really had no choice but to make them. I am glad that I did! Who doesn't love snickerdoodle cookies and who doesn't love chocolate? You add them together and you have one to die for cookie!!

These little blossoms are a little work, but not anything that will make you just hate to make them. Mix the dough and let it chill for a good 30 minutes. Don't skip this step, it is a little sticky if you don't. Roll into balls, roll them in cinnamon sugar and bake them. I used my handy little cookie scoop and got 4 short of 4 dozen cookies, I could have gotten 4 dozen if I watched my scooping..some of them were a little on the chunky side.

I'm thinking that these will make it on my cookie platters this year!

Snickerdoodle Blossoms

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed, brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
48 milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped

Heat oven to 375.
Combine 1/2 cup white sugar,brown sugar and butter in large mixing bowl.

Beat at medium speed until creamy. Add egg, vanilla and salt; continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; and add flour and baking soda. Beat until well mixed.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. If dough is too soft, refrigerate for 1/2 hour. I recommend doing that, makes it easier to handle. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll dough balls into cinnamon sugar mixture.

Place balls in mini muffin tins. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately press 1 chocolate kiss in center of each cookie and sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar mixture over them while they are still warm. Remove from pans; cool completely on a wire rack.



Friday, October 9, 2009

Orange Chunk Cookies- Week 2

This week I chose to bake Orange Chunk Cookies, they should have been chip, but my grocery store didn't have white chocolate chips, WHAT?! I know, so I had to substitute a bar of it and chunk it up. That just added to the fun, I don't know why, but food prep makes me happy. The more I can chop, the happier I am. I know, I have issues!

So, here we are at week 2, and that means 11 weeks until Christmas now and I don't have the slightest idea of what I will be buying the kids. I asked Abby what she wanted and she said "Joy". I said, "Joy, as in happiness? Are you not happy?" She said, yes, I am happy, but that is what I want. Crazy child!! Maybe I'll get something that has JOY written on it and stick it in her stocking.

On to the cookies, I liked them, the hubby and kids liked them. The hubby was a little concerned of the orange, he doesn't like orange flavored things, but the orange flavor was subtle. It mostly tasted like a white chocolate chip cookie and once you chewed it and swallowed was when you get the hint of orange. So, I would give this cookie a thumbs up!

You also need to go and see what Megan from Megan's Cooking, Barbara from Barbara Bakes, and Megan from My Baking Adventures is joining us as well!

Orange Chunk Cookies

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 cup (6 oz) white chocolate chips
1 Tbsp grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda and salt into small bowl. Beat the butter and both sugars in large bowl until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture, until just combined. Stir in white chocolate chips and zest. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool for 2 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Martha Mondays-Warm Vanilla Cider

This weeks Martha Monday was chose by Teresa of A Homemade Life in Iowa. She chose this cider from the October issue of Martha's magazine. I made it this morning and it was perfect since it is finally starting to feel like fall here. This recipe called for fresh apple cider, so I went to the local fruit and berry patch here to pick it up. I got there just in time, I got the last gallon! It is some good stuff, and I wasn't sure on how it could get any better. Well, it did! This warm vanilla cider was perfect! Warm, with a little bit of spice and a little bit of comfort from the vanilla bean. The only thing that could have made it better would to have been to top it with whipped cream.

Warm Vanilla Cider
By: Martha

6 cups fresh apple cider
2 nutmeg seeds
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Put all ingredients in a pot. Simmer for 15 minutes, discard the solids and serve.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cinnamon Crisps-Week 1

I know this is crazy, but do you realize that there is only 12 weeks until Christmas? When you look at it that way, it seems like it is so close, I guess it really isn't that far away. This brings me to this...12 weeks of Christmas cookies. I do alot of baking at Christmas and always wait until the last minute to try to get it all in, and then I am left with no time to try new recipes. So this should fix that problem. A batch of cookies a week, I think I should be able to keep up. :) Megan is baking along each week as well, so I am hoping to get some new ones from her too! If you have a cookie/bar that you want to share feel free!!

Every year I look forward to the new Better Homes and Garden Christmas Cookies magazine. It is out by the first of October every year and it is loaded with cookie recipes. Any where from drop cookies, to cut outs, to bars...to layered cookies. I have them from the past 12 years. I love them and can't make myself part with them.

These cookies are really good. Crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle, even when they have cooled completely. The picture of these in the magazine, showed them rolled in pearl sugar. I love the look of this, but can't find it here...it is on my "look for and buy" list. Instead of the pearl sugar, I rolled these little babies in granulated sugar and I liked the extra sweetness and glisten that it gave. The addition of molasses in this mixture reminded me of gingerbread, only you don't add any ginger, cinnamon is the only spice in these. So here we have it, cookie #1 in the 12 weeks of Christmas Cookies challenge.

Cinnamon Crisps

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp each baking powder and baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup light molasses
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
pearl sugar or granulated sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.

Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; beat until well combined. Add egg; beat until blended, then beat in molasses. On low speed, beat in flour until just blended.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls; roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes until cookies are light brown around edges and tops crackle. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Martha Monday-Apple Brown Betty

This week was my choice for Martha Monday. I normally will make apple crisp when it comes to making apple dessert. My hubby on the other hand has always talked about making Apple Brown Betty, his grandmother always made this. I had not ever heard of one, until he talked about it, much less ever made or eaten one. So for my choice, I thought I would go with Martha and try it out. Honestly, I was disappointed in it. For my apple crisp, I would top it with butter, flour, sugar, maybe some oats in there. The topping and filling for this brown betty was toasted bread crumbs, although, I think I could get past that, I think that the flavor was kind of bland. Not real sweet and I really couldn't taste the spices. I am thinking that I am going to have to pay the GM a visit to see how she made her brown betty and compare.


Apple Brown Betty:
By: Martha

4 to 5 slices white sandwich bread (about 4 ounces total), torn into large pieces
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 pounds Gala apples (about 6), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup packed light- or dark-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for serving (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, pulse bread until coarse crumbs form (you should have about 2 cups). Spread breadcrumbs on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely. Transfer to a bowl, add butter, and toss until coated.
Meanwhile, place apples in a large bowl, and toss with lemon juice. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and half the breadcrumbs. Transfer mixture to an 8-inch square (or other shallow 2-quart) baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining breadcrumbs. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake until fruit mixture is bubbling, about 40 minutes. Then remove foil, and continue baking until breadcrumbs have browned and apples are easily pierced with a paring knife, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving. Top, if desired, with vanilla ice cream sprinkled with cinnamon.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Daring Bakers go French!

I am back from a 3 month hiatus from the Daring Bakers. If you haven't heard of them, you really should check them out. It is a great way to learn new things, such as this month....puff pastry!!! I really didn't expect it to turn out, but it did, and I am a giddy little girl!


The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.
I was surprised at how easy this really was. A few basic ingredients and a little bit of time and there you go. I did break mine up into 2 days. The first day, I mixed the dough, beat the butter, rolled and folded the dough a total of 6 turns, while tweeting with Megan and Barbara. These 2 girlies were a blast to bake along with. Then, I let the dough chill over night. The next day, gave it a good roll out, cut into shapes and baked.
The next step was to decide on a filling. This was the hardest part! I decided that I would go with a cinnamon pastry cream with sauteed apples. Fall is finally here and thought this is a great way to celebrate! Well, I had a little issue with the pastry cream...it clumped,but it still stated good. So, I let it chill overnight and when I came back the next day, it was hard as a rock!!! I probably cooked it too long and didn't temper the eggs good enough...so...plan B. Cinnamon whipped cream with sauteed apples, just as good!
Here it is...Vols-Au-Vent with Cinnamon Whipped Cream topped with Sauteed Apples!
Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough
Ingredients:2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter
plus extra flour for dusting work surface
Mixing the Dough:
Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.
Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)
Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:
Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:
Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:
If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.
Cinnamon whipped cream:
1 cup whipping cream
3 TBSP sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Whip the whipping cream on medium speed, gradually add in the sugar and then add in the cinnamon. Whip until stiff peaks form.
Sauteed Apples (I could eat these by themselves!)
1/4 cup butter
4 large tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
In a large skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add apples and cook stirring constantly until apples are almost tender, 6-7 minutes.
Dissolve cornstarch in water, add to skillet. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Peanut Butter Brownies

Peanut Butter is one of my favorite things. I don't like to eat it straight from the jar, but I love it in pies, brownies, cakes...anything baked. These little babies made me very happy, they are moist and chewy.

Are you familiar of the food event Cooking with Alicia and Annie? I have known about it for a few months now, but this is my first time participating. If you don't know about it, check it out. You just choose a recipe from Alicia or Annie, make it, post about it, comment on the blog that you made it, and you are in the drawing for a monthly prize. Not too bad, huh?

I found these brownies on Annie's blog. There are so many things that I want to make from her blog and Alicia's as well!! So many recipes, not enough time!

Peanut Butter Brownies
From: Annie's Recipes
3 eggs
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips--I left these out

Instructions
Cream together shortening and sugar. Add peanut butter, eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add dry ingredients then fold in chocolate chips. Pour into a 9x13 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until done.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cookie Carnival-Black Bottom Coconut Bars

Kate from The Clean Plate is back, and is kicking off the Cookie Carnival after a short break. She chose these bars by Martha. I am not a huge coconut fan, but I had some coconut in the cabinet that needed to be used. This was a great way to do that. This recipe is simple enough and doesn't take much time putting it together. What you can expect from these bars is, a moist chocolate brownie base, with a chewy coconut topping, kind of like a Mounds candy bar in brownie form. It was a good choice!

Black Bottom Coconut Bars
By: Martha Stewart

FOR CHOCOLATE BASE
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

FOR COCONUT TOPPING
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 package sweetened shredded coconut (7 ounces), 1/2 cup reserved for sprinkling

Directions
For chocolate base: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving a slight overhang; butter bottom and sides of foil (not overhang).

Place butter in a large microwave-safe bowl; melt in microwave. Add sugar and salt; whisk to combine. Whisk in egg, then cocoa and flour until smooth. Spread batter in prepared pan.

Bake just until sides begin to pull away from edges of pan, 10 to 15 minutes (do not over bake). Let cool slightly while preparing coconut topping. Keep oven on for topping.

For coconut topping: In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with sugar and vanilla. Gently mix in flour and coconut (except 1/2 cup reserved for sprinkling).

Drop mounds of mixture over chocolate base; spread and pat in gently and evenly with moistened fingers. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup coconut.

Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Lift cake from pan, peel off foil, and cut into 24 bars. Store in an airtight container 3 to 4 days.

Martha Monday-Donation Bag


Here we are again for Martha Mondays, and I have to tell you that I completely slacked this week. This weeks assignment was to designate a place for a donation bag, this was one of Martha's organization tips for the day. This is a really good idea and really doesn't take much effort. Just hang a bag by the back door or inside your pantry, where ever your heart desires, and fill it with the items that you want to donate. Food items for the local food pantries, or clothes that you kids have outgrown to donate to the shelters or good will.
This week flew by for me with the boys running cross country and Abby cheering, so honestly, I didn't even think about this assignment this week. But, after looking at everyone being organized, I am completely jealous BTW, it has made me want to go home and clean out the cabinets and drawers in my kitchen. I can't motivate myself enough for the kids closets just yet. :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saturday Night

This past Saturday night, we had friends over and what better way to finish off the night with chocolate fondue? in fountain form! You can find these little home fountains just about anywhere these days and they are inexpensive. Adults love it, kids love it..just don't worry about the mess it will make though. :)
We had marshmallows and strawberries....




and you can't forget peanut butter balls!

I could do this every weekend!

Peanut Butter Balls:

2 sticks margarine

1 cup peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 (16oz) box powdered sugar

Melt the butter and peanut butter together in a large pot. Stir in vanilla and powdered sugar until combined. This will make the dough thick. Roll into balls and put on wax paper. Chill in the refrigerator. Dip into melted chocolate.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Martha Mondays-Molasses Spice Cake






This is my first week of the group Martha Mondays. This group was created by Martha and Me. I think that I liked this group because 1) it is laid back, if you need to miss, it's ok! and 2) it is not only cooking/baking, but also crafts.



This weeks assignment was chosen by Pru of My Life-Pru Singer and she chose this cake. This cake made me excited when I saw what it was. I am ready for fall and this cake just screamed fall to me.

So, the verdict? It's ok. The cake is moist and has the right amount of spice. A couple of the girls didn't like the cream cheese frosting, because you add sour cream and they thought it was too sour. You can definitely taste the sour cream come through, but I liked it. It is not very sweet, but the brown sugar glaze gives you the sweetness that you need. Oh, and I should warn you...if you are watching your calorie intake, this is not one that you will want to make. I can just feel the bulges in my thighs getting bigger just by thinking of the amount of butter that went into this! :)

Will I make this again? Probably not. But, I'm glad I made it. So far, one of the kids likes it, and will be a great after school snack!

You want the recipe? You can find it here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lightened Up Lemon Bundt Cake

My mom gets the weekly Woman's World magazine. You can bet on it, every Sunday she makes her trip to the Walmart and this is in her cart when she checks out. I like this magazine too. It has little stories, tips, recipes and there is always a lightened up recipe. I have made muffins and bread from this magazine and knew that I would want to make this lemon cake. This was another one that I wasn't disappointed with.

Lightened Up Lemon Bundt Cake
From:Womans World Magazine

4 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups refrigerated liquid egg substitute
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup oil
1 container (6oz) low fat lemon yogurt
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp grated lemon zest
2 cups confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 12 cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and soda; reserve. On medium-high speed, beat egg substitute, sugar, oil, yogurt and 1/2 cup lemon juice until combined. On medium-low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in zest. Pour into pan. Bake 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes. Remove from pan to rack; cool completely. Whisk together confectioners sugar and 3 Tbsp lemon juice until smooth; poor over cake.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gale Gand's Deep Chocolate Shortbread



I must be on a chocolate kick, because, it seems that the last few things that I have posted about is chocolate. Well, I guess you really can't go wrong with it. I found this recipe on the Splenda site and figured that if it is from Gale Gand, then it must be ok. I love shortbread and the thought of making it a little healthier, I couldn't pass it up. The verdict? It is good. I made this yesterday and tried one right after it came out of the oven, and thought..this really is not good. But, today, it is so much better! I'm glad that I didn't just trash it!

Gale Gand's Deep Chocolate Shortbread

From: Splenda

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup Splenda

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

6 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 3/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp AP flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Place the butter, Splenda, sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Mix, using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, until the mixture is light and creamy. Add cocoa powder and all of the flour. Mix until just blended.

Remove dough from bowl and form into a ball. Place the ball of dough on the parchment lined pan. Roll the dough into a rectangle approx. 6 1/2 inches wide by 11 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. Pierce the surface of the dough with a fork all over. This allows the air to escape during baking preventing air pockets from forming.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes baking. Remove shortbread from oven immediately cut into 24 fingers or rectangles while shortbread is still warm. If allowed to cool, the shortbread will not slice well.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

World Peace Cookies

Why, oh, why have I not made these before now? That is what I keep asking myself! These cookies are that good! Megan has raved about these, Maria made these not too long ago and loved them too. So, I asked myself, why haven't I made them? I am still kicking myself in the back end for not making them before now. I do have a confession about them though, I didn't let the dough chill. And you know what? They still turned out great! I will be making these over and over again!

World Peace Cookies
From: BFMHTY
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel.

Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

GETTING READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mississippi Mud Cake

This cake is what I will normally turn to when I need a quick dessert to take somewhere. This cake is really rich, so only a little piece is all you will need to satisfy that craving. I made this recipe before, but in cupcake form and it turned out just as good! I really don't think that you can go wrong with chocolate, pecans and marshmallows. Don't have time to make your marshmallows? no worries, store bought will do just as good here!

Mississippi Mud Cake:

1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped pecan
4 cups miniature marshmallows

Chocolate Frosting:
1 (16oz.) package powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

Combine butter and coca in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until butter melts.

Remove from heat; transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and eggs; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add flour, salt, and vanilla; beat until blended. Stir in pecans. Spoon batter into greased 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes for the cake. Remove from oven and sprinkle marshmallows over hot cake. If making the cake, immediately spread frosting over marshmallows.

To make the chocolate frosting:
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; beat at medium speed until smooth, adding an additional tablespoon of milk if frosting is too stiff.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins

My family is a family full of muffin lovers, especially warm right out of the oven with a little bit of butter that is melting....ok, let me get back to this muffin.

This is from BFMHTY by Dorie. Love them. Nice and chocolaty, moist and dense. This is one great muffin!

Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins
From:BFMHTY

6 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet

Melt the butter and half the chopped chocolate together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; or do this in a microwave. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients and the melted butter and chocolate over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don't worry about being thorough-a few lumps are better than over mixing the batter. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

A little break..

I hope all my blogger friends have had a wonderful Christmas and will have a Happy New Year!! I will be back after the new year, hopefully, with a couple of changes!!

Happy New Year!!

April

Friday, December 18, 2009

Christmas Cookie Finale-Gingerbread Men


Well, now, the past 12 weeks have past by so quickly, haven't they? Luckily, my family loves cookies and they didn't get tired of them, they are actually wondering which ones are next!

I am a firm believer that gingerbread men are a must on a cookie platter! They just make me smile when I see them. And maybe everyone doesn't like gingerbread, but they are so festive who can resist biting off their head or arm or maybe even the leg? :)


I have had so much fun baking along with Megan, Barbara, Megan, Kim and Denise these last weeks! You never knew what would be their choice of cookie each week and all of them are on my to make list! Thank you for cookie baking with me!!

Gingerbread
2/3 C brown sugar, packed
2/3 C molasses
1 t Ginger
1 t Cinnamon
1/2 t crushed cloves
3/4 T baking soda
2/3 C butter, softened
1 egg
5 C all purpose flour

Heat brown sugar, molasses, ginger, cinnamon, and cloves to boiling point. Remove from heat, add baking soda, and pour over butter in a large mixing bowl. Stir until butter is melted, then stir in egg and flour thoroughly. Knead for a few minutes, then gather dough into a ball. Refrigerate dough until firm enough to roll easily. Roll on a lightly floured board and cut with shaped cutter of choice. Place on greased cookie sheet or parchment and bake in 325 degree oven for 8-12 minutes.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

How cute are these? I saw them on Giverslog and knew that I wanted to make them! Abby and I made them yesterday for her class and I can't wait to make more of them and play with it a little. We made these in ice cube trays, but want to try them in a sucker mold.

Instead of a packet of hot chocolate, you use one of these in a cup of hot milk! It can't get any easier than that! I did see somewhere where they flavored the white chocolate with raspberry oil, so they had raspberry hot chocolate on a stick! I am thinking peppermint! :)


Hot chocolate on a Stick

8 oz chocolate, any kind, milk, semi sweet, white
1/4 cup cocoa
1/2 cup powdered sugar
pinch of salt

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler. Once it is melted, remove from the heat and add the cocoa, sugar and salt. Mix it until it is all combined. It will get really thick...like a frosting consistency. Once it is all mixed put the mixture into a baggie and snip of the corner and pipe it into your mold. I used a standard ice cube tray. Tap the ice tray on the counter to smooth it out and so that it can settle . Insert a stick and put it into the freezer for a few minutes until the chocolate hardens. Decorate it by dipping it into other chocolates or leave it plain.

Stir the stick into a 1 cup of hot milk, until it is dissolved.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies-Week 11

We are at week 11, just one more week to go! I still have so many more cookies that I want to make!!
This week I give you one of my favorites! These are really easy to make and will add a little wow factor on your platter. You can add the chocolate drizzle or leave them plain. Just make sure that you really drain and pat your cherries dry before you wrap the dough around them, or it won't stick.

Chocolate Covered Cherry Cookies

1 10oz jar maraschino cherries with stems, drained and juice reserved

1 Tbsp cherry juice

1/2 cup butter, softened

1 cup sugar

1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp baking powder

1 egg

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

Beat butter in bowl of electric mixer on medium high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda and baking powder; beat until combined. Beat in the egg and 1 tsp reserved cherry juice. Beat in as much flour as you can with mixer, stir in any remaining flour with wooden spoon.

Shape a scant 1 tsp of dough around each cherry. Place in 1 inch paper or foil baking cups and place 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until the top looks dry.

Top with melted chocolate or your favorite chocolate glaze and top if sprinkles, if desired.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Sugar Glazed Almonds

Why is it that we only make tons of baked goods and candies at Christmas time? Sure, we think of then at the other holidays too, but for the most part at Christmas we make triple the amount. Don't get me wrong, I love it! I have made these for years. They are simple, and you can change up the flavor..add some orange zest, add some cinnamon or even rose water. Or just leave them plain and they taste like a honey roasted peanut, only in almond form.

Would someone please take them away from me, I can't stop eating them!!

Sugar Glazed Almonds

1/2 cup water
1 cup sugar
2 cups whole almonds

Set aside an ungreased baking sheet. In a heavy 2-quart skillet, combine water and sugar. Place over high heat and stir with a wooden spoon until mixture comes to a boil. Add almonds and stir continuously. Reduce heat to medium and stir almonds until mixture foams and turns to sugar. (This takes about 10-15 minutes.) Continue stirring as almonds become coated with sugar; sugar will begin to remelt and caramelize on the almonds. Remove from heat and turn out onto baking sheet. Using 2 forks, separate almonds into single nuts. Cool.

Variations:
For Glazed Orange-add 2 Tbsp grated orange zest at the beginning of cooking.
For Cinnamon-Add 1/4 tsp cinnamon at the beginning of cooking.
For Rose Water-At the end of cooking, sprinkle nuts with 2 tsp rose water and stir well.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Orange Vanilla Shortbread

We are at week 10 of thee 12 weeks of Christmas cookies. When we first started this, I thought it would take forever to finish it up, but now we only have 2 more weeks! There have been so many great cookie recipes during this and can't wait to see what the next weeks bring!
I saw this recipe in Sherry Yards book The Secret of Baking and was curious about the use of Orange Blossom Water. I had never seen it, much less needed to use it in a recipe. I knew that I wanted to try it. That was about a year ago. I don't know why I haven't made them sooner. I really like the flavor of them. They have a base of orange flavor with a little hint of a floral scent. And then the vanilla mellows it all out. The recipe said to roll it out to about 1/4 inch thick and cut into a shape, freeze for 15 minutes then bake. I chose to bake them in an 8x8 square dish and cut them into squares. They turned out a little more fluffy than the shortbread that I have made before. Maybe it is because I didn't roll it out? Not sure, but they still taste yummy! I think I might like to make this recipe and adapt it to this flavor.
Remember to see what Megan, Barbara, Megan, Denise and Kim baked up this week!
Orange Vanilla Shortbread
By: Sherry Yard
2 cup all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp sugar
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 Tbsp finely grated orange zest
1/8 tsp salt
1 Tbsp orange flower water
1 large egg, at room temperature
Sift together flour and baking soda in medium bowl and set aside
Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the butter on medium speed until pale yellow, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle. Add the sugar, vanilla extract and scraped seeds from the bean, orange zest, salt and orange flower water. Cream on medium speed until it is smooth and lump free, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
Add the egg and beat on low speed for 30 seconds, or until fully incorporated. Do not overbeat. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
On low speed, add the flour mixture. Beat until all the dry ingredients are incorporated, about 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. The dough will be gooey. Remove the dough from the mixer, scrape it onto a sheet of plastic film, press it into a 1/2-1 inch thick disk, wrap tightly, and chill for at least 1 hour. At this point, the dough will keep nicely, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 1 month. (Thaw frozen dough at room temperature for about 30 minutes, or until you can slice it.)
Dust a work surface lightly with flour. Place the dough between 2 sheets of lightly floured parchment paper, roll it out 1/4 inch thick, and freeze it for at least 2 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Adjust the rack to the lower third of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
When the dough has frozen, carefully peel off the parchment and place the dough on a work surface dusted lightly with flour. Dip a 3 inch round cookie cutter in flour, then cut out the cookies. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets, alternating the rows like a checkerboard. Return the dough to the freezer for 15 minutes or more whenever it becomes too sticky to cut.
Bake one sheet at a time for 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown around the edges, turning the sheet front to back halfway through the baking. Remove from the oven and carefully slide the parchment directly onto a work surface. Wait at least 5 minutes before serving or 30 minutes before storing the cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cake Cookies-Week 9!


I saw this recipe for these cookies in a magazine that called for a cake mix, an egg, and a carton of cool whip. The cool whip got the best of my curiosity and I had to try them out. They turned out so good that a friend and I made 4 different flavors and each batch made 4 dozen, so I was stuck with 16 dozen cookies! There could be worse things, I guess. :)
These cookies are really soft and chewy, a little messy because of the powdered sugar, but so worth it. These will definitely be going on my platters! The cake mixes we used were chocolate fudge, strawberry, orange and spice cake. I have a lemon to make and I want to try pineapple upside down.
We are coming along with out 12 weeks of Christmas, we are at week 9 and have seen some really awesome cookies!
Cake Cookies
1 box cake mix, any flavor
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 (8 oz) Cool Whip, thawed
2 cups powdered sugar
Mix the cake mix, egg, and cool whip together until combined. This will be thick, but not so thick that you can roll it into balls. Put the powdered sugar into a shallow bowl.
Once you mix the dough, put the scoops of dough into the powdered sugar and roll it to coat. You can shape it once it is covered with the powdered sugar.
Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

This week, I asked the hubby what kind of cookie he wanted and he wanted something with peanut butter and chocolate. Honestly, I wanted him to tell me something that was sort of a challenge for me to find a recipe for this week, but I guess you really can't do that with cookie. I guess this really was a little challenge for me, because I haven't found that perfect peanut butter cookie recipe yet. This one is close, and will do, but I am always looking for new ones. :)

I found this recipe in one of my cookie magazines and was curious about it because there is no butter, I am guessing that the peanut butter takes that place, and there is only 1/4 cup of flour. This told me that it would probably be moist and chewy in the middle. And yes, I was right. With little spreadage, and a crisp outside, with the chewy in the middle, they did hit the spot. The first thing that came out the oldest sons mouth as soon as he popped one in his mouth was, mmmmmmm. I took that as a thumbs up! Will these go on my cookie platters? Probably!!
Don't forget my other cookie baker's this week, we are almost to the end girls! :)
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup peanut butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 tsp baking soda
1 egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. In a mixing bowl beat peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar, and baking soda until combined. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Stir in flour and chocolate chips with a wooden spoon.
Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Place balls on an ungreased cookie sheet (do not use an insulated cookie sheet); flatten slightly with fingers.
Bake in preheated oven about 10 minutes or until cookies are puffed and lightly browned around edges (centers will be soft). Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes. Transfer to wire racks; cool completly. Makes 2 dozen.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cinnamon Bun Scones

I am a firm believer in homemade scones. The ones that you buy out at the store or coffee shops, that are dry and crumbly and make you choke, are just not for me. Now, the hubby on the other hand, isn't really a fan at all of scones. He calls them fu-fu food. Let me rephrase that..until now, he was not a fan. I think that he ate half of them, and my boys ate them for breakfast this morning. I am positive that they will be requested again and again. :)
I found this recipe from the book A Passion for Baking by Marcy Goldman. I have made a few things from this book and so far so good. If you haven't seen it, you really should. It is full of yummy, yummy things! I didn't follow the directions exactly, though...but they still came out great. The directions say to mix the dry ingredients in the food processor, dump them out and make a well in the center, then put the wet ingredients and combine. I bypassed all of this and mixed everything in my mixer with a paddle attachment. It mixed up perfectly! :) You also scoop these out with an ice cream scoop, so I am thinking mini's would be great too!
Cinnamon bun Scones
By: Marcy Goldman
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
3/4 tsp salt
4 tsp baking powder
3/4 cup unsalted butter, cut into chunks
2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
3/4 to 1 cup whipping cream
Cinnamon Dip
4 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 to 3 cups confectioner's sugar
Whipping cream or milk, as required
Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Stack two baking sheets together and line top sheet with parchment paper. Arrange oven rack to upper third position.
In a food processor, add flour, sugar, salt and baking powder and blend briefly. Add butter and pulse to make a coarse, grainy mixture.
Turn out mixture into a large bowl. Make a well in center and stir in vanilla, eggs, and whipping cream to make a soft dough. If it is stiff, add more cream.
Using an ice cream scoop, deposit 15 to 20 scones on prepared baking sheets,or use a smaller 2 Tbsp cookie scoop and deposit 3 dozen baby scones.
Bake until scones are puffy and golden brown, about 22 to 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, for Cinnamon Dip, whisk together all ingredients until you have a thick but drippy glaze. Add more confectioner's sugar or cream as required.
Cool scones to warm and then dip into Cinnamon Dip. Dip scones again once topping is set.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Vanilla Bean Angel Pillows



I chose this cookie recipe from last years Better Homes and Garden Christmas Cookie magazine. I'm glad that I keep these year from year just for this reason..even if it is 8 years from now, I now that I will find something that I haven't made yet or maybe I will have made the same recipe 10 times. The bottom line here, I guess, is that I really have an addiction. I just had this conversation this week with a friend, and I am glad to know that I am not the only one with this problem. :)



I love the look of the vanilla bean speckles! :)


These cookies are just what the title describes, vanilla bean pillows. They are light and crumbly and sweet, but more buttery than sweet. Once you bite into it, the vanilla sugar on the outside sticks to your lips and chin...really, it get everywhere..but I think it just adds to the yumminess! The recipe said that this would yield 28 cookies, and that is exactly what I got. I normally go for the ones that make more than that, but I couldn't pass these up. These will be going on my platters this year, and maybe I will roll some of them in red and green sugars.


Don't forget to see what Megan, Barbara, Megan, Kim, and Denise baked up this week!


Vanilla Bean Angel Pillows

From Better Home and Gardens

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 tsp salt

1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise

1 cup cold butter, cubed

1/4 cup vanilla sugar*

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, combine flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Cover and process until combined.

Using the tip of a sharp knife, scrape pulp from vanilla bean. Add vanilla pulp to the flour mixture; add butter. Cover and process with several on/off pulses until mixture starts to cling, stopping once to scrape bowl. Gather mixture into a ball.

Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake in a preheated oven about 12 minutes or just until edges start to brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; cool for 5 minutes.

Place vanilla sugar in a small bowl. While cookies are warm, roll them in vanilla sugar to coat. Cool completely on wire rack. Makes about 28 cookies.

*To make vanilla sugar, in a small bowl, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 week, giving it a shake every once in awhile.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls

I probably think that these are the best cinnamon rolls that I have ever had! I made these with my friend, that I do the dinner club thing with, and we froze them. We made up the dough, let it rise, rolled it out and put the butter, sugar and cinnamon, rolled them back up, gave them a quick slice. We then put them in our pan and stuck them in the freezer. I had no idea if they would turn out or not. I pulled them out of the freezer about an hour before I was going to bake them. They thawed out in this hour and had just started to rise some more when I put them in the oven for their 15 minute bake. They puffed up perfectly! I had 20 of them in my pan and every one of them were eaten! I will now have them in my freezer at all times!!

One of the things that I really liked about this recipe was that 1.)it was simple and 2) this recipe makes a ton of them! The only thing I changed on this recipe was the maple glaze. I just went with the standard vanilla glaze, I am thinking a cream cheese glaze next time will be in order!

With The Pioneer Woman's book just coming out, this was the perfect time to try these out. The only thing that I have seen on her book is that it is wonderful! I'm thinking that I am going to have to bring one home to be part of the family! :)

Pioneer Woman's Cinnamon Rolls

1 quart of whole milk
1 cup of vegetable oil
1 cup of sugar
2 packages Active Dry Yeast
8+1 cups of all-purpose flour
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1 "scant" tsp baking soda
1 heaping Tbsp of salt
1 1/2 to 2 cups melted butter
1 cup of sugar
generous sprinkling of cinnamon

Mix the milk, vegetable oil, and sugar in a pan. "Scald" the mixture (heat until just before the boiling point.) Turn off heat and leave to cool 45 minutes to 1 hour. When the mixture is lukewarm to warm, but not hot, sprinkle in both packages of Active Dry Yeast. Let this sit for a minute. Then add 8 cups of all purpose flour. Stir mixture together. Cover and let rise for at least an hour.

Add 1 more cup of flour, the baking powder, baking soda and salt. Stir mixture together. (At this point, you could cover the dough and put it in the fridge until you need it-overnight or even a day or two, if necessary. Just keep your eye on it and if it starts to splurge out of the pan, just punch it down.)

Sprinkle surface generously with flour. Take half the dough and form a rough rectangle. Then roll the dough thin, maintaining a general rectangular shape. Drizzle melted butter over the dough. Now sprinkle sugar over the butter followed by a generous sprinkling of cinnamon. Now, starting at the opposite end, begin rolling the dough in a neat line toward you. Keep the roll relatively tight as you go. Next, pinch the seam to the roll to seal it. Spread 1 Tbsp of melted butter in seven round, foil cake or pie pans. Then begin cutting rolls approximately 3/4 to 1 inch thick and laying them int he buttered pans. Repeat this process with the other half of the dough. Let the rolls rise for 20-30 minutes, then bake at 400 degrees until light golden brown, about 15-18 minutes.

Maple Frosting

1 bag of powdered sugar
2 tsp maple flavoring
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup brewed coffee
1/8 tsp salt

Mix together all ingredients listed and stir well until smooth. It should be thick but pourable. Taste and adjust as needed. Generously drizzle over the warm rolls. Go crazy and don't skimp on the frosting! :)

Friday, November 6, 2009

This week I chose to go simple. The classic chocolate chip cookie. I made this recipe from Emeril Lagasse's book, There's a chef in my Soup. This is the only recipe that I have made from this book, and probably won't make them again. The taste is fine, but it is just now what I want in a CC cookie. I want a slightly crisp outside and a chewy middle. These just were all crunchy.

I also did a little experiment. Normally, I only will bake on my baking stones. I love them, the bottoms don't burn. I baked half on the baking stone and the other half I baked on parchment paper on a regular aluminum cookie sheet. Here are the differences I found, the ones on the stone didn't brown on the bottoms, but they did spread. The ones on the parchment, stayed more round with hardly any spreading, but they did brown on the bottom. I am curious on how you bake your cookies? I would love to know!

Make sure to go and see the other cookie bakers!!

Chocolate Chip Cookies
By: Emeril
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla1 large egg
1 1/2 cups chocolate chip cookies

Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.

Place the butter, sugar and brown sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer and cream the ingredients on high speed. Scape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Add the vanilla and egg and mix on medium speed. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until batter is stiff-don't overdo it.

Turn off the mixer and, using a large spoon or plastic spatula, fold in the chocolate chips. Using a tablespoon, scoop about 2 spoonfuls of the dough into a ball and place on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, keeping the scoops about 2 inches apart. Using your fingers or the back of the spoon, press down on each ball of dough to slightly flatten.Bake on 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, or until lightly brown.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Granola Breakfast Bread

This is the time of year when I want to make bread the most. Any type of bread will do, as long as I am making it. I found this recipe in Dorie's book BFMHTY and it is originally called Oatmeal Breakfast Bread, but I have some left over granola from Bear Naked, btw, if you haven't tried their granola, you should, it is fantastic! But, as I was saying, I had this leftover granola that is vanilla flavored with some almonds and thought it would work just fine...it did! I also left out the dried fruit, just because I didn't have any, but the next time this is made, I am going to add it. I know it will make it even better! I made 4 mini loaves from this one batch, which means that I can get 4 neighbor gifts out of it. That is if I can keep the hubby and kids out of it...or myself!!



Oatmeal Breakfast Bread
By: BFMHTY

For the topping:
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup walnuts or pecans
1/4 tsp cinnamon

For the bread:
2 large eggs
1 1/4 cups unsweetened applesauce
1/3 cup flavorless oil, such as canola or safflower
1/4 cup buttermilk or whole milk
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
Pinch of ground cloves
1/2 cup diced dried figs, apples or apricots or moist, plump raisins
1 cup old-fashioned oats

Getting ready: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9x5 inch loaf pan, or a mini loaf pan, dust the inside with flour and tap out the excess. Put the pan on a baking sheet.

To make the topping: In a small bowl, using your fingers, toss together the sugar, nuts and cinnamon until evenly mixed, set aside.

To make the bread: Whisk together the eggs, applesauce, oil and buttermilk until well blended.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, salt, nutmeg and cloves. Remove 1/2 tsp of the mix and toss it with the fruit, just to coat; set aside. Stir the oats into the bowl. Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry and, using a large rubber spatula, stir just until everything is evenly moistened-this is a case where less is more, so don't overdo the mixing. Scatter the dried fruit over the batter and stir to blend. Scrape the batter into the pan and sprinkle over the topping, tamping it down very lightly with your fingers so it sticks.

Bake for 55 to 65 minutes, or until the bread is beautifully browned and a thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Transfer the bread to a rack to cool for about 5 minutes, then run a knife around the sides of the pan and unmold. Invert and cool to room temperature right side up.

**Since I made my loaves in a mini loaf pan, it baked in about 30-35 minutes.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Peanut Butter Blossoms- Week 5


We are at week 5 of the Christmas cookies, and it amazes me how fast time flies! Sometimes, I am in need of a quick cookie recipe that I can just throw together. You know, those that you have all the ingredients in the pantry and you don't need to wait on the butter to soften to room temperature? This cookie is that one.


My friend and I have started this dinner club and the whole point of it is to fellowship with each other and make meals for the freezer. A couple of hours in and we had 3 meals and bread sticks for our freezer. While we were busy making dinners, the hubbies and kiddos needed something sweet. These were the perfect thing. They were quick to make and put into the oven, and I think that they disappeared just as quick!


Wonder what my other cookie bakers have made this week?


Peanut Butter Blossom Cookies

Makes 4 dozen


1/2 cup shortening3

/4 cup creamy peanut butter

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/3 cup packed light brown sugar

1 egg

2 Tbsp milk

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp saltgranulated sugar

48 Hershey Kisses, unwrapped


Preheat oven to 375 degrees.


Using an electric mixer, beat shortening and peanut butter together until creamy. Add both sugars, beating until fluffy. Add egg, milk and vanilla; beat well. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beating dry ingredients into wet mixture until dough forms.


Using your hands, shape dough into 1 inch balls. Roll shaped balls in granulated sugar; turning completely to coat. Place sugared balls of dough into a greased mini muffin pan.


Bake in preheated oven for 8-10 minutes or until cookies turn a very pale brown. Immediately remove pan from oven and press a kiss into the center of each cookie. Carefully remove and place on wire rack to cool completely.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

French Macarons-Daring Bakers

The 2009 October Daring Bakers’ challenge was brought to us by Ami S. She chose macarons from Claudia Fleming’s The Last Course: The Desserts of Gramercy Tavern as the challenge recipe.

I was excited about this challenge, I have been wanting to make these for a long time. But, as it looks like my little bites of heaven turned out..unfortunately, they did not. This picture is as good as it gets, my friends. The taste was wonderful, looks like I did get the feet, or I should say more of a ruffle...but every one of them stuck and crumbled.

I won't give up on these though. I will try again...someday. :)

Friday, October 23, 2009

Chewy Chocolate Cookies-week 4



This week I chose to make these cookies from the new Holiday Taste of Home Magazine. I love this time of year when all the holidays start, although, I wish it didn't come and go so fast. I made these cookies three days ago and they are still chewy in the middle. I am guessing that it is from the 2 1/2 sticks of butter it uses!! Oh well, I didn't say that they were healthy! :)



My one gadget that I have to have when I am making cookies is my little cookie scoop. I use it with almost every cookie that I make, unless it is a slice and bake, but you know, sometimes I am a little impatient to let my dough chill, and I use the scoop anyway. With this batch of dough, I got 6 dozen cookies out of it! So, if you need a good cookie that makes alot, this one is it!



Need some more cookie ideas? Check out my other cookie bake along friends! They are listed on my side bar.








Chewy Chocolate Cookies



1 1/4 cup butter, softened

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour

3/4 cup cocoa

1 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp salt

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips




In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla.




Combine flour, cocoa,, baking soda and salt; gradually add to the creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased baking sheets.




Bake at 350 degrees for 8-9 minutes or until edges are set. Cool on pans for 1 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.







Friday, October 16, 2009

Nutella Swirl- Week 3!

I have a confession, I adore Nutella. I actually have a problem. I could eat it on anything, really, my favorite way is right out of the jar with a spoon. When I saw these from The Doubled Dipped Life, I knew I had to make them for this weeks cookie recipe. Actually, these looked so good, Barbara had the same idea that I did!

I had a little trouble with these cookies. I found the dough to be really soft and sticky. I chilled it for a good 30 minutes before rolling it out. Once I started to roll it out, I had to add more flour. Once I finally got it rolled, without sticking, I went to spread the Nutella, this took a little patience. I would start to spread it and my dough would rip. Finally, I got it spread, and rolled the dough, I stuck the roll in the freezer for about 20 minutes to make for easy slicing. My roll was really skinny, but they baked up nicely. After slicing, I got right at 20 cookies. The taste, I wasn't crazy about them. I don't know what it was..maybe I was just frustrated with my dough sticking..but, today, they are really good! I'm glad I didn't throw them out!

Make sure and check out Megan, Barbara, Megan, Kim and Denise to see what they have baked up this week!

Nutella Swirl Cookies
From:The Double Dipped Life

1 stick butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1 heaped cup sifted all purpose flour
1/4 cup Nutella
2-3 Tbsp chopped toasted hazelnuts, I left these out

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix the butter and sugar together until creamy. Mix in the egg yolk and vanilla. The mixture should be light and well combined. Stir in the flour and refrigerate dough for at least 15 minutes for easy rolling.

Next, roll out the dough into a rectangle of 1/4 inch thickness. Spread the Nutella, leaving 1/4 inch space on all four sides. Sprinkle chopped hazelnuts over the Nutella. Roll up the dough jelly roll style. Refrigerate another 10 minutes before slicing. Slice into 1/2 inch thick slices. Put on baking sheet about 2 inches apart and bake 12-15 minutes until slightly golden around the edges.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Snickerdoodle Blossoms

I first saw Denise make these,then Ingrid twisted my arm to make these, so I really had no choice but to make them. I am glad that I did! Who doesn't love snickerdoodle cookies and who doesn't love chocolate? You add them together and you have one to die for cookie!!

These little blossoms are a little work, but not anything that will make you just hate to make them. Mix the dough and let it chill for a good 30 minutes. Don't skip this step, it is a little sticky if you don't. Roll into balls, roll them in cinnamon sugar and bake them. I used my handy little cookie scoop and got 4 short of 4 dozen cookies, I could have gotten 4 dozen if I watched my scooping..some of them were a little on the chunky side.

I'm thinking that these will make it on my cookie platters this year!

Snickerdoodle Blossoms

1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup packed, brown sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
48 milk chocolate kisses, unwrapped

Heat oven to 375.
Combine 1/2 cup white sugar,brown sugar and butter in large mixing bowl.

Beat at medium speed until creamy. Add egg, vanilla and salt; continue beating until well mixed. Reduce speed to low; and add flour and baking soda. Beat until well mixed.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls. If dough is too soft, refrigerate for 1/2 hour. I recommend doing that, makes it easier to handle. Combine 1/4 cup sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon in a small bowl. Roll dough balls into cinnamon sugar mixture.

Place balls in mini muffin tins. Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately press 1 chocolate kiss in center of each cookie and sprinkle remaining cinnamon sugar mixture over them while they are still warm. Remove from pans; cool completely on a wire rack.



Friday, October 9, 2009

Orange Chunk Cookies- Week 2

This week I chose to bake Orange Chunk Cookies, they should have been chip, but my grocery store didn't have white chocolate chips, WHAT?! I know, so I had to substitute a bar of it and chunk it up. That just added to the fun, I don't know why, but food prep makes me happy. The more I can chop, the happier I am. I know, I have issues!

So, here we are at week 2, and that means 11 weeks until Christmas now and I don't have the slightest idea of what I will be buying the kids. I asked Abby what she wanted and she said "Joy". I said, "Joy, as in happiness? Are you not happy?" She said, yes, I am happy, but that is what I want. Crazy child!! Maybe I'll get something that has JOY written on it and stick it in her stocking.

On to the cookies, I liked them, the hubby and kids liked them. The hubby was a little concerned of the orange, he doesn't like orange flavored things, but the orange flavor was subtle. It mostly tasted like a white chocolate chip cookie and once you chewed it and swallowed was when you get the hint of orange. So, I would give this cookie a thumbs up!

You also need to go and see what Megan from Megan's Cooking, Barbara from Barbara Bakes, and Megan from My Baking Adventures is joining us as well!

Orange Chunk Cookies

2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 large egg, room temperature
1 cup (6 oz) white chocolate chips
1 Tbsp grated orange zest

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Sift flour, baking soda and salt into small bowl. Beat the butter and both sugars in large bowl until smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and mix well. Gradually add the flour mixture, until just combined. Stir in white chocolate chips and zest. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly brown. Cool for 2 minutes, then transfer to cooling rack.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Martha Mondays-Warm Vanilla Cider

This weeks Martha Monday was chose by Teresa of A Homemade Life in Iowa. She chose this cider from the October issue of Martha's magazine. I made it this morning and it was perfect since it is finally starting to feel like fall here. This recipe called for fresh apple cider, so I went to the local fruit and berry patch here to pick it up. I got there just in time, I got the last gallon! It is some good stuff, and I wasn't sure on how it could get any better. Well, it did! This warm vanilla cider was perfect! Warm, with a little bit of spice and a little bit of comfort from the vanilla bean. The only thing that could have made it better would to have been to top it with whipped cream.

Warm Vanilla Cider
By: Martha

6 cups fresh apple cider
2 nutmeg seeds
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped

Put all ingredients in a pot. Simmer for 15 minutes, discard the solids and serve.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Cinnamon Crisps-Week 1

I know this is crazy, but do you realize that there is only 12 weeks until Christmas? When you look at it that way, it seems like it is so close, I guess it really isn't that far away. This brings me to this...12 weeks of Christmas cookies. I do alot of baking at Christmas and always wait until the last minute to try to get it all in, and then I am left with no time to try new recipes. So this should fix that problem. A batch of cookies a week, I think I should be able to keep up. :) Megan is baking along each week as well, so I am hoping to get some new ones from her too! If you have a cookie/bar that you want to share feel free!!

Every year I look forward to the new Better Homes and Garden Christmas Cookies magazine. It is out by the first of October every year and it is loaded with cookie recipes. Any where from drop cookies, to cut outs, to bars...to layered cookies. I have them from the past 12 years. I love them and can't make myself part with them.

These cookies are really good. Crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle, even when they have cooled completely. The picture of these in the magazine, showed them rolled in pearl sugar. I love the look of this, but can't find it here...it is on my "look for and buy" list. Instead of the pearl sugar, I rolled these little babies in granulated sugar and I liked the extra sweetness and glisten that it gave. The addition of molasses in this mixture reminded me of gingerbread, only you don't add any ginger, cinnamon is the only spice in these. So here we have it, cookie #1 in the 12 weeks of Christmas Cookies challenge.

Cinnamon Crisps

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp each baking powder and baking soda
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup light molasses
2 2/3 cups all purpose flour
pearl sugar or granulated sugar

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Beat butter and sugar on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.

Add baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and salt; beat until well combined. Add egg; beat until blended, then beat in molasses. On low speed, beat in flour until just blended.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls; roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on baking sheet. Bake 8-10 minutes until cookies are light brown around edges and tops crackle. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Martha Monday-Apple Brown Betty

This week was my choice for Martha Monday. I normally will make apple crisp when it comes to making apple dessert. My hubby on the other hand has always talked about making Apple Brown Betty, his grandmother always made this. I had not ever heard of one, until he talked about it, much less ever made or eaten one. So for my choice, I thought I would go with Martha and try it out. Honestly, I was disappointed in it. For my apple crisp, I would top it with butter, flour, sugar, maybe some oats in there. The topping and filling for this brown betty was toasted bread crumbs, although, I think I could get past that, I think that the flavor was kind of bland. Not real sweet and I really couldn't taste the spices. I am thinking that I am going to have to pay the GM a visit to see how she made her brown betty and compare.


Apple Brown Betty:
By: Martha

4 to 5 slices white sandwich bread (about 4 ounces total), torn into large pieces
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 1/2 pounds Gala apples (about 6), peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup packed light- or dark-brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon, plus more for serving (optional)
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Vanilla ice cream, for serving (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a food processor, pulse bread until coarse crumbs form (you should have about 2 cups). Spread breadcrumbs on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool completely. Transfer to a bowl, add butter, and toss until coated.
Meanwhile, place apples in a large bowl, and toss with lemon juice. Stir in sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and half the breadcrumbs. Transfer mixture to an 8-inch square (or other shallow 2-quart) baking dish. Sprinkle with remaining breadcrumbs. Cover dish tightly with aluminum foil.
Bake until fruit mixture is bubbling, about 40 minutes. Then remove foil, and continue baking until breadcrumbs have browned and apples are easily pierced with a paring knife, 10 to 15 minutes more. Let cool at least 15 minutes before serving. Top, if desired, with vanilla ice cream sprinkled with cinnamon.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Daring Bakers go French!

I am back from a 3 month hiatus from the Daring Bakers. If you haven't heard of them, you really should check them out. It is a great way to learn new things, such as this month....puff pastry!!! I really didn't expect it to turn out, but it did, and I am a giddy little girl!


The September 2009 Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon. She chose the French treat, Vols-au-Vent based on the Puff Pastry recipe by Michel Richard from the cookbook Baking With Julia by Dorie Greenspan.
I was surprised at how easy this really was. A few basic ingredients and a little bit of time and there you go. I did break mine up into 2 days. The first day, I mixed the dough, beat the butter, rolled and folded the dough a total of 6 turns, while tweeting with Megan and Barbara. These 2 girlies were a blast to bake along with. Then, I let the dough chill over night. The next day, gave it a good roll out, cut into shapes and baked.
The next step was to decide on a filling. This was the hardest part! I decided that I would go with a cinnamon pastry cream with sauteed apples. Fall is finally here and thought this is a great way to celebrate! Well, I had a little issue with the pastry cream...it clumped,but it still stated good. So, I let it chill overnight and when I came back the next day, it was hard as a rock!!! I probably cooked it too long and didn't temper the eggs good enough...so...plan B. Cinnamon whipped cream with sauteed apples, just as good!
Here it is...Vols-Au-Vent with Cinnamon Whipped Cream topped with Sauteed Apples!
Michel Richard’s Puff Pastry Dough
From: Baking with Julia by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: 2-1/2 pounds dough
Ingredients:2-1/2 cups (12.2 oz/ 354 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
1-1/4 cups (5.0 oz/ 142 g) cake flour
1 tbsp. salt (you can cut this by half for a less salty dough or for sweet preparations)
1-1/4 cups (10 fl oz/ 300 ml) ice water
1 pound (16 oz/ 454 g) very cold unsalted butter
plus extra flour for dusting work surface
Mixing the Dough:
Check the capacity of your food processor before you start. If it cannot hold the full quantity of ingredients, make the dough into two batches and combine them.
Put the all-purpose flour, cake flour, and salt in the work bowl of a food processor fitted with a metal blade and pulse a couple of times just to mix. Add the water all at once, pulsing until the dough forms a ball on the blade. The dough will be very moist and pliable and will hold together when squeezed between your fingers. (Actually, it will feel like Play-Doh.)
Remove the dough from the machine, form it into a ball, with a small sharp knife, slash the top in a tic-tac-toe pattern. Wrap the dough in a damp towel and refrigerate for about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, place the butter between 2 sheets of plastic wrap and beat it with a rolling pin until it flattens into a square that's about 1" thick. Take care that the butter remains cool and firm: if it has softened or become oily, chill it before continuing.

Incorporating the Butter:
Unwrap the dough and place it on a work surface dusted with all-purpose flour (A cool piece of marble is the ideal surface for puff pastry) with your rolling pin (preferably a French rolling pin without handles), press on the dough to flatten it and then roll it into a 10" square. Keep the top and bottom of the dough well floured to prevent sticking and lift the dough and move it around frequently. Starting from the center of the square, roll out over each corner to create a thick center pad with "ears," or flaps.

Place the cold butter in the middle of the dough and fold the ears over the butter, stretching them as needed so that they overlap slightly and encase the butter completely. (If you have to stretch the dough, stretch it from all over; don't just pull the ends) you should now have a package that is 8" square.

To make great puff pastry, it is important to keep the dough cold at all times. There are specified times for chilling the dough, but if your room is warm, or you work slowly, or you find that for no particular reason the butter starts to ooze out of the pastry, cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate it . You can stop at any point in the process and continue at your convenience or when the dough is properly chilled.

Making the Turns:
Gently but firmly press the rolling pin against the top and bottom edges of the square (this will help keep it square). Then, keeping the work surface and the top of the dough well floured to prevent sticking, roll the dough into a rectangle that is three times as long as the square you started with, about 24" (don't worry about the width of the rectangle: if you get the 24", everything else will work itself out.) With this first roll, it is particularly important that the butter be rolled evenly along the length and width of the rectangle; check when you start rolling that the butter is moving along well, and roll a bit harder or more evenly, if necessary, to get a smooth, even dough-butter sandwich (use your arm-strength!).

With a pastry brush, brush off the excess flour from the top of the dough, and fold the rectangle up from the bottom and down from the top in thirds, like a business letter, brushing off the excess flour. You have completed one turn.

Rotate the dough so that the closed fold is to your left, like the spine of a book. Repeat the rolling and folding process, rolling the dough to a length of 24" and then folding it in thirds. This is the second turn.

Chilling the Dough:
If the dough is still cool and no butter is oozing out, you can give the dough another two turns now. If the condition of the dough is iffy, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes. Each time you refrigerate the dough, mark the number of turns you've completed by indenting the dough with your fingertips. It is best to refrigerate the dough for 30 to 60 minutes between each set of two turns.

The total number of turns needed is six. If you prefer, you can give the dough just four turns now, chill it overnight, and do the last two turns the next day. Puff pastry is extremely flexible in this regard. However, no matter how you arrange your schedule, you should plan to chill the dough for at least an hour before cutting or shaping it.
Cinnamon whipped cream:
1 cup whipping cream
3 TBSP sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Whip the whipping cream on medium speed, gradually add in the sugar and then add in the cinnamon. Whip until stiff peaks form.
Sauteed Apples (I could eat these by themselves!)
1/4 cup butter
4 large tart apples, peeled, cored, and sliced 1/4 inch thick
2 tsp cornstarch
1/2 cup cold water
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
In a large skillet or saucepan, melt butter over medium heat. Add apples and cook stirring constantly until apples are almost tender, 6-7 minutes.
Dissolve cornstarch in water, add to skillet. Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon. Boil for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and serve.


Thursday, September 24, 2009

Peanut Butter Brownies

Peanut Butter is one of my favorite things. I don't like to eat it straight from the jar, but I love it in pies, brownies, cakes...anything baked. These little babies made me very happy, they are moist and chewy.

Are you familiar of the food event Cooking with Alicia and Annie? I have known about it for a few months now, but this is my first time participating. If you don't know about it, check it out. You just choose a recipe from Alicia or Annie, make it, post about it, comment on the blog that you made it, and you are in the drawing for a monthly prize. Not too bad, huh?

I found these brownies on Annie's blog. There are so many things that I want to make from her blog and Alicia's as well!! So many recipes, not enough time!

Peanut Butter Brownies
From: Annie's Recipes
3 eggs
1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chocolate chips--I left these out

Instructions
Cream together shortening and sugar. Add peanut butter, eggs and vanilla and mix well. Add dry ingredients then fold in chocolate chips. Pour into a 9x13 inch baking pan. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until done.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Cookie Carnival-Black Bottom Coconut Bars

Kate from The Clean Plate is back, and is kicking off the Cookie Carnival after a short break. She chose these bars by Martha. I am not a huge coconut fan, but I had some coconut in the cabinet that needed to be used. This was a great way to do that. This recipe is simple enough and doesn't take much time putting it together. What you can expect from these bars is, a moist chocolate brownie base, with a chewy coconut topping, kind of like a Mounds candy bar in brownie form. It was a good choice!

Black Bottom Coconut Bars
By: Martha Stewart

FOR CHOCOLATE BASE
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for pan
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)

FOR COCONUT TOPPING
2 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 package sweetened shredded coconut (7 ounces), 1/2 cup reserved for sprinkling

Directions
For chocolate base: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with aluminum foil, leaving a slight overhang; butter bottom and sides of foil (not overhang).

Place butter in a large microwave-safe bowl; melt in microwave. Add sugar and salt; whisk to combine. Whisk in egg, then cocoa and flour until smooth. Spread batter in prepared pan.

Bake just until sides begin to pull away from edges of pan, 10 to 15 minutes (do not over bake). Let cool slightly while preparing coconut topping. Keep oven on for topping.

For coconut topping: In a medium bowl, whisk eggs with sugar and vanilla. Gently mix in flour and coconut (except 1/2 cup reserved for sprinkling).

Drop mounds of mixture over chocolate base; spread and pat in gently and evenly with moistened fingers. Sprinkle with reserved 1/2 cup coconut.

Bake until golden and a toothpick inserted in center comes out with moist crumbs attached, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan. Lift cake from pan, peel off foil, and cut into 24 bars. Store in an airtight container 3 to 4 days.

Martha Monday-Donation Bag


Here we are again for Martha Mondays, and I have to tell you that I completely slacked this week. This weeks assignment was to designate a place for a donation bag, this was one of Martha's organization tips for the day. This is a really good idea and really doesn't take much effort. Just hang a bag by the back door or inside your pantry, where ever your heart desires, and fill it with the items that you want to donate. Food items for the local food pantries, or clothes that you kids have outgrown to donate to the shelters or good will.
This week flew by for me with the boys running cross country and Abby cheering, so honestly, I didn't even think about this assignment this week. But, after looking at everyone being organized, I am completely jealous BTW, it has made me want to go home and clean out the cabinets and drawers in my kitchen. I can't motivate myself enough for the kids closets just yet. :)

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Saturday Night

This past Saturday night, we had friends over and what better way to finish off the night with chocolate fondue? in fountain form! You can find these little home fountains just about anywhere these days and they are inexpensive. Adults love it, kids love it..just don't worry about the mess it will make though. :)
We had marshmallows and strawberries....




and you can't forget peanut butter balls!

I could do this every weekend!

Peanut Butter Balls:

2 sticks margarine

1 cup peanut butter

1 tsp vanilla

1 (16oz) box powdered sugar

Melt the butter and peanut butter together in a large pot. Stir in vanilla and powdered sugar until combined. This will make the dough thick. Roll into balls and put on wax paper. Chill in the refrigerator. Dip into melted chocolate.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Martha Mondays-Molasses Spice Cake






This is my first week of the group Martha Mondays. This group was created by Martha and Me. I think that I liked this group because 1) it is laid back, if you need to miss, it's ok! and 2) it is not only cooking/baking, but also crafts.



This weeks assignment was chosen by Pru of My Life-Pru Singer and she chose this cake. This cake made me excited when I saw what it was. I am ready for fall and this cake just screamed fall to me.

So, the verdict? It's ok. The cake is moist and has the right amount of spice. A couple of the girls didn't like the cream cheese frosting, because you add sour cream and they thought it was too sour. You can definitely taste the sour cream come through, but I liked it. It is not very sweet, but the brown sugar glaze gives you the sweetness that you need. Oh, and I should warn you...if you are watching your calorie intake, this is not one that you will want to make. I can just feel the bulges in my thighs getting bigger just by thinking of the amount of butter that went into this! :)

Will I make this again? Probably not. But, I'm glad I made it. So far, one of the kids likes it, and will be a great after school snack!

You want the recipe? You can find it here.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Lightened Up Lemon Bundt Cake

My mom gets the weekly Woman's World magazine. You can bet on it, every Sunday she makes her trip to the Walmart and this is in her cart when she checks out. I like this magazine too. It has little stories, tips, recipes and there is always a lightened up recipe. I have made muffins and bread from this magazine and knew that I would want to make this lemon cake. This was another one that I wasn't disappointed with.

Lightened Up Lemon Bundt Cake
From:Womans World Magazine

4 cups AP flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
3/4 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups refrigerated liquid egg substitute
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup oil
1 container (6oz) low fat lemon yogurt
1/2 cup plus 3 Tbsp lemon juice
3 Tbsp grated lemon zest
2 cups confectioners sugar

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 12 cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. Combine flour, baking powder, salt and soda; reserve. On medium-high speed, beat egg substitute, sugar, oil, yogurt and 1/2 cup lemon juice until combined. On medium-low speed, gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in zest. Pour into pan. Bake 45 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean. Cool 20 minutes. Remove from pan to rack; cool completely. Whisk together confectioners sugar and 3 Tbsp lemon juice until smooth; poor over cake.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Gale Gand's Deep Chocolate Shortbread



I must be on a chocolate kick, because, it seems that the last few things that I have posted about is chocolate. Well, I guess you really can't go wrong with it. I found this recipe on the Splenda site and figured that if it is from Gale Gand, then it must be ok. I love shortbread and the thought of making it a little healthier, I couldn't pass it up. The verdict? It is good. I made this yesterday and tried one right after it came out of the oven, and thought..this really is not good. But, today, it is so much better! I'm glad that I didn't just trash it!

Gale Gand's Deep Chocolate Shortbread

From: Splenda

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

1/2 cup Splenda

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

6 Tbsp cocoa powder

1 3/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp AP flour

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet or jellyroll pan with parchment paper. Set aside.

Place the butter, Splenda, sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium mixing bowl. Mix, using the paddle attachment of an electric mixer, until the mixture is light and creamy. Add cocoa powder and all of the flour. Mix until just blended.

Remove dough from bowl and form into a ball. Place the ball of dough on the parchment lined pan. Roll the dough into a rectangle approx. 6 1/2 inches wide by 11 inches long and 1/4 inch thick. Pierce the surface of the dough with a fork all over. This allows the air to escape during baking preventing air pockets from forming.

Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan after 10 minutes baking. Remove shortbread from oven immediately cut into 24 fingers or rectangles while shortbread is still warm. If allowed to cool, the shortbread will not slice well.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

World Peace Cookies

Why, oh, why have I not made these before now? That is what I keep asking myself! These cookies are that good! Megan has raved about these, Maria made these not too long ago and loved them too. So, I asked myself, why haven't I made them? I am still kicking myself in the back end for not making them before now. I do have a confession about them though, I didn't let the dough chill. And you know what? They still turned out great! I will be making these over and over again!

World Peace Cookies
From: BFMHTY
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 stick plus 3 tablespoons (11 tablespoons) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel or 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or a generous 3/4 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips

Sift the flour, cocoa and baking soda together. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, the salt and vanilla extract and beat for 2 minutes more.

Turn off the mixer. Pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to protect yourself and your kitchen from flying flour and pulse the mixer at low speed about 5 times, a second or two each time. Take a peek — if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of times more; if not, remove the towel.

Continuing at low speed, mix for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough — for the best texture, work the dough as little as possible once the flour is added, and don’t be concerned if the dough looks a little crumbly. Toss in the chocolate pieces and mix only to incorporate.

Turn the dough out onto a work surface, gather it together and divide it in half. Working with one half at a time, shape the dough into logs that are 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap and refrigerate them for at least 3 hours. (The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months. If you’ve frozen the dough, you needn’t defrost it before baking — just slice the logs into cookies and bake the cookies 1 minute longer.)

GETTING READY TO BAKE: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.Working with a sharp thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are 1/2 inch thick. (The rounds are likely to crack as you’re cutting them — don’t be concerned, just squeeze the bits back onto each cookie.) Arrange the rounds on the baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch between them.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes — they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s just the way they should be. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let the cookies rest until they are only just warm, at which point you can serve them or let them reach room temperature.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Mississippi Mud Cake

This cake is what I will normally turn to when I need a quick dessert to take somewhere. This cake is really rich, so only a little piece is all you will need to satisfy that craving. I made this recipe before, but in cupcake form and it turned out just as good! I really don't think that you can go wrong with chocolate, pecans and marshmallows. Don't have time to make your marshmallows? no worries, store bought will do just as good here!

Mississippi Mud Cake:

1 cup butter or margarine
1/2 cup cocoa
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 1/2 all-purpose flour
Dash of salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups chopped pecan
4 cups miniature marshmallows

Chocolate Frosting:
1 (16oz.) package powdered sugar
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup cocoa
1/4 cup butter or margarine, softened

Combine butter and coca in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat until butter melts.

Remove from heat; transfer to a large mixing bowl. Add sugar and eggs; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Add flour, salt, and vanilla; beat until blended. Stir in pecans. Spoon batter into greased 9x13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes for the cake. Remove from oven and sprinkle marshmallows over hot cake. If making the cake, immediately spread frosting over marshmallows.

To make the chocolate frosting:
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl; beat at medium speed until smooth, adding an additional tablespoon of milk if frosting is too stiff.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins

My family is a family full of muffin lovers, especially warm right out of the oven with a little bit of butter that is melting....ok, let me get back to this muffin.

This is from BFMHTY by Dorie. Love them. Nice and chocolaty, moist and dense. This is one great muffin!

Chocolate-Chocolate Chunk Muffins
From:BFMHTY

6 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 oz bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 cup buttermilk
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Butter or spray the 12 molds in a regular size muffin pan or fit the molds with paper muffin cups. Place the muffin pan on a baking sheet

Melt the butter and half the chopped chocolate together in a bowl over a saucepan of simmering water; or do this in a microwave. Remove from the heat.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk the buttermilk, egg and vanilla extract together until well combined. Pour the liquid ingredients and the melted butter and chocolate over the dry ingredients and, with the whisk or a rubber spatula, gently but quickly stir to blend. Don't worry about being thorough-a few lumps are better than over mixing the batter. Stir in the remaining chopped chocolate. Divide the batter evenly among the muffin cups.

Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center of the muffins comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a rack and cool for 5 minutes before carefully removing each muffin from its mold.