Wednesday, December 23, 2009

What a month!

It is unbelievable to me that Christmas is only two days away. Wow...how did that happen? And that seems to be the general consensus among everyone I speak to; time is just going so fast. November and December can be summed up in one word...baking! I never thought I would be burned out by being in my kitchen, but boy was I wrong! I even bailed on baking cookies last night with Em and Cam, telling Em that if I turned on my mixer I thought my brain might explode! However, being in the kitchen is such a natural part of my life that I'm sure it won't take long before I feel that "need" to get back in there. Here are a few things that I've whipped up this month...

I didn't think it would be that big of a deal to make red velvet roulade. My first thought was to do just like I had with pumpkin roll and use a regular cake recipe. FYI...that doesn't work. And if you have a red velvet cake recipe that you can do this for, please e-mail it to me! I tried a few different roulade recipes before I found one that actually worked. What a pain! I found this recipe here on Leite's Culinaria. I think it turned out pretty beautiful, especially paired with the el cheapo $1.50 green tray I found.


My 16 year old neighbor also loves to bake, and peanut butter pie is her specialty. Everyone in my neighbor-hood goes nutso over it, so I decided to add it to my list this month. To be honest, this pie is getting me back in the kitchen tomorrow when I whip one up for our own Christmas dinner. Doesn't it look soooo yummy?!!


Peanut Butter Pie (adapted from Allrecipes.com)
1 Oreo cookie pie crust
1 (8 oz) pkg cream cheese, softened
1 c. creamy peanut butter
1 c. sugar
1 tbs. butter, softened
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. heavy cream plus more for decoration
ganache or chocolate ice cream topping
mini peanut butter cups
In a mixer, beat cream cheese, peanut butter, sugar, butter and vanilla until smooth and airy. Fold in whipped heavy cream until fully incorporated. Spoon into crust and stripe with ganache. Refrigerate until set up and then decorate with more whipped cream and peanut butter cups. Mmmmmm.....



And last but not least...here is a sampling of a smallllll portion of the cookies and candy I made this holiday. I think I counted about 35 different kinds that I baked. Shew!



Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let it snow? Maybe in my kitchen...


I have to say that I think my piping skills have gotten a lot better over the last year, so I was excited to try out snowflake cookies again this year. Snowflakes have always been my favorite cut out to decorate. Last year I decorated them all the same see here but the day I made these I decided to do whatever flowed from the tip. I love how they came out, especially the white on white one. I used the No Fail Sugar Cookie recipe posted on Cake Central. I've had a lot of success with this recipe, but have learned that the cookies work better when rolled thicker and that they get really, really hard if you let them bake too long (like even the slightest brown.) To decorate, I used a simple royal icing...I never measure, just mix egg whites and confectioners sugar together until I get the right consistency. I think I decorate cut outs different than some people; I learned from an old employer to paint on (with a smaller paint brush) the royal icing. It is much easier to do (unless you have shapes like a circle, and then you HAVE to pipe the outline to get it perfect) and then pipe on details (I used a #2 tip.)

For the ones with the the blue in the middle, I used a smaller snowflake cutter and cut out the middle, added crushed blue Jolly Ranchers, and baked them (make sure you are baking these on parchment paper....I'm sure they would stick if you didn't.) After I decorated and the royal icing was all set, I brushed on super pearl luster dust. I love how these cookies turned out; it is pretty rewarding to see the difference between my last year ones and these.

Monday, November 2, 2009

I Rock The Pie...

One would think that after making 100 (yes, you read that right...ONE HUNDRED!) 5" pies for wedding favors a few weeks ago that I would be SO over pie making. However, after a week of serious cake making, and after still seeing a peck of Ida Reds (which I purchased from an Amish farm back home for $3...the whole bushel was only $7!) still sitting in the corner of my kitchen, I decided to whip up an apple pie to stick in the freezer. The reason I really like pies is probably (other than the crust) there is no measuring....some of this, some of that...whatever I feel like putting in. And somehow it always turns out great. Since I only had enough pie dough for a single crusted pie, I decided to do a crumb topping. WOW...talk about a bad day to start doing a low carb diet! I had a tiny bite of the piece I cut (so I could take a picture of the inside)...I am a sucker for the crumb topping. To make my crumb topping I used a stick of butter, added flour and brown sugar and mushed it all together, adding more flour until I got a crumbly texture. Mmmmmm.....

My second quest today was to make a pumpkin roll. I used this recipe from Allrecipes. Ehhh, it was ok. I chose to do a cream cheese buttercream instead of the filling, which was my mistake. Another problem that I had with the recipe was the pan size. I chose to use a 12x12 pan, which is larger than what is called for, and I still don't think it is large enough. I had a tough time rolling it without the cake cracking. I have found that the thinner the cake is, the easier it is to roll. I might try it on a 1/2 sheet pan next time, maybe with a different recipe.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Tiered cake + construction zones=YIKES!


I had to post this picture of my niece with her birthday cake. I dropped the cake off half way to my sister in law on Saturday, and let me tell you...4 hours worth of construction zones are a death sentence for a cake!!! My niece still loved the cake though...next time I'll have to figure out a way to get some better support in it!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

One Crazy Week....

This week has tested my cake limits like never before. It started off with one big cake...the zombie (which, btw, I updated my last post with a better picture.) After that, I was talking to a good friend of mine who wanted a Twilight themed cake and matching cookie favors for her daughter's birthday. "Sure, no problem!" I said. Then I found out when she wanted it...the same day as the zombie. My first reaction was, "OH CRAP!" But I went with it, knowing I'd figure it out. And then another acquaintance asked me to make a small cake and sugar cookies for her daughter's class. "Of course!" I said. And of course the due date...the day after the two others. And then a few weeks ago while visiting my parents (3 1/2 hrs away) my sister in law asked me if I would want to make a cake for my niece's birthday. This time my first question was, "When do you need it by?!!!" Yep, you guessed it...the same day as the zombie and Twilight cake. Oh man! How could I say no to my niece??? So it has been one crazy, crazy week...and it's not over....my niece's cake I have to drive 1 1/2 hrs to meet up with them this morning, and then drive back to hopefully carry Mr. Zombie in one piece across the street to my neighbor's birthday party. Shew! One thing I can say for myself, I rock at time management!!!!!!










Monday, October 26, 2009

ZOMBIEEEEEE!!!!!


Jill's son's birthday is this coming week, so she decided to have a Halloween theme party for him. After telling me he wanted a haunted house cake, I went home and scoured the internet for some inspiration. Somewhere among the Halloween cakes, I found the original version of this cake from Courtney's Cakes. After seeing her version, I really wanted to make it (and had to convince Jill's son that he didn't really want a haunted house!) I had never worked with an internal structure and was really excited to try it. Courtney's version is a bajillion times better than mine (the head of mine kind of cracks me up a little!) but I think for my first time using a structure like this I didn't do too badly! And I think I will be declared the coolest neighbor evah.

Friday, October 2, 2009

National Cookie Network September Challenge

After first seeing that Septem-ber's secret ingredient was strawber-ries, I thought, "Geez that is going to be a snap!" However it took the entire month for my creative juices to flow and come up with an idea. I knew I wanted to use fresh strawber-ries, and in the end I chose to make a shortbread thumbprint type of cookie. For some extra pizazz I added shaved white chocolate to the cookie dough. I thought that these cookies were super good (unfortunately I'm the only one in the house that will eat strawberries, so these cookies have not been good for weight loss!) However, next time I would dice the strawberries instead of just using halves. I didn't like that the cookie spread and the strawberries got smaller as they baked, leaving "exposed" parts of the cookie middle. If the strawberries were diced, I think it would look a little nicer.

Strawberry Shortbread Cookies
1 c. butter, softened
2/3 c. sugar
1 tsp. strawberry extract
2 c. flour
1 oz. shaved white chocolate
white chocolate chips/white chocolate/white candy melts
fresh strawberries, cut in halves
Cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Add extract, then flour and shaved white chocolate. Form into tablespoon size balls. In the center of each ball, make a hole or indentation large enough to place a strawberry half. First place a small amount of white chocolate in each hole, and the top with a strawberry (cut side down.)\
Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 12ish minutes (I'm so awful about timing!) or until the cookies are set to the touch (do not let them turn brown.)Stripe with more white chocoalte. Yummmmmmmm!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Cystic Fibrosis Cookbook

Last November, when my blog was just starting and I had no followers I posted about the cystic fibrosis cookbook that I put together as a fundraiser. Since more people are reading my blog I thought I'd post about it again, especially since I've had some updates.

I put this cookbook together for a fundraiser for the Great Strides walk; a walk that I've done since I was a little girl. My brother was diagnosed with CF when he was 12 (I was 6.) Cystic fibrosis is a fatal, genetic disease that affects primarily the lungs. Since he was diagnosed, there have been several ups and downs, but the biggest changes have come this year. In March I received a phone call from my mom that my brother wasn't doing so well (he was already in the hospital) and he was going to be reactivated on "the list." His condition was very, very serious and if he didn't have a double lung transplant right then, he probably wasn't going to make it too much longer. In June, after 72 days of waiting, he received a new set of lungs.

In August while he was still in recovery I went and spent a week with him. I cannot say how incredibly thankful to the donor I am for his selflessness when he chose to sign up to be an organ donor. My brother and I had grown apart, and if it hadn't been for this donor choosing to pass life on to someone else, I never would of gotten the opportunity to know my brother again. Again I am just so thankful and grateful to his donor.

I am a big believer that things don't just happen by chance; everything happens for a reason, and there is a bigger hand in the picture. After I went to visit my brother in August, I was on my way back home. I had a connecting flight; on the first flight I got on the big, completely full plane and sat down in my seat next to a woman. We started talking immediately, and the conversation quickly turned to why I was visiting the area. I told her that my brother had just had a double lung transplant, and her eyes got huge. I continuted, and told her that he has cystic fibrosis. She said, "You are never going to believe this...my SON has cystic fibrosis." She started telling me about her son, Joe......yes, my brother's name too! We talked nonstop the entire flight; neither of us even remembered taking off! Earlier this week I got an e-mail from this woman. Her son has taken a turn for the worse and has been in ICU for the last several weeks. His wife is pregnant and is being induced today. It's weird to me that this woman I barely know could touch my life so deeply like she has. And it hurts me so much to know that this disease has brought yet another person so close death. It's not fair.

I know this is a foodie blog, and this isn't really a foodie post. I just wanted to bring some awareness to CF and to organ donation. If you aren't an organ donor, please consider becoming one! You don't have to wait to renew your driver's license...you can go here and sign up today. My brother is an awesome, awesome person and I am so lucky to have him in my life! If you ever see people campaigning for CF fundraisers or Great Strides, please consider giving something. Scientists and researchers are pretty close to finding a cure, but like everything else in our world...it's expensive! It breaks my heart and brings me to tears every time when I go to Great Strides walks and see the little kids that have CF. I have seen their future through my brother if a cure is not found.

Fall Topsy Turvy



Here is the cake I made to match the leaf cookies. For once, I think it actually looks better in person than in the photo! The original design came from Pink Cake Box; of course I didn't do hers justice, but I don't think I did too badly either. The last time I attempted to make a topsy turvy I swore I would never again make one after it completely split down the middle! I learned from my mistakes in that cake, and corrected them with this cake....and it only took me 1 1/2 years to get the nerve up to try it!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Fall Decorated Spiced Sugar Cookies

I absolutely love the fall. Ad and I have toyed with the idea of moving down to Florida several times since we've been married, but one thing always stops me........there is no fall in Florida. No crisp air. No beautiful leaves changing. Don't get me wrong...once winter comes and I'm reminded of how incredibly cold NY in the Catskills can be, I'm back to thinking about warm weather and beaches.
I think that when every fall rolls around I start looking at baking projects that involve aspects of fall...leaves, pumpkins, etc. Naturally I was excited when a friend asked me to make these cookies for her AND a cake that coordinates. I love making decorated cookies, but don't do it very often and forget how time consuming and how much work they are. Props to the people who do it all the time, and bigger orders (I only did 30!)
For these cookies, I chose to use the No Fail Sugar Cookie recipe that is found on Cake Central. I wanted to make the flavor a little more fall like, so I added 1 tsp. cinnamon, 1/2 tsp. cloves, 1/2 tsp. ginger, and 1/2 tsp. nutmeg. The results were excellent. I really love working with this dough. I didn't refrigerate it at all, just cut out my shapes and baked them off. My shapes stayed nicely; no spreading. You do really have to watch how long you bake them, though...they need to stay completely white, but not look dough-y on the top. If they start to get brown at all, they will be too hard.
For the royal icing, I don't ever follow a recipe. I believe I used 4 egg whites and maybe a little more than 1/2 a bag of confectioner's sugar. I was pretty excited with how these cookies turned out...hopefully they go over well at my friend's event.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Baby Shower Cake

I haven't posted in awhile...it's been too hot and muggy this month to even turn on the oven. Luckily this week the temp nose-dived from 90's to 70's...just in time for the baby shower cake that my friend asked me to make for her sister-in-law. My friend is also quite pregnant, and asked that one of the layers of the cake be white with chocolate chips (a flavor I made a few years ago for her son's birthday.) For some reason my stand by white cake recipe that I've made at least a million times failed me the last few times I made it, so this time I chose to try a new recipe...and I found a winner. I found the recipe here on Cake Central. The second layer I decided to make pumpkin and fill with cinnamon-maple buttercream. This pumpkin cake is probably hands down one of my favorite cakes...it is super easy to throw together, holds up well yet has a soft crumb. I found the original recipe here. Both these recipes I followed as is, and they turned out great. The last tier I decided to do chocolate, and used my usual Moosewood recipe, which I've posted about before. You can find the recipe on Moosewood Restaurant's site. I dropped the cake off to my friend this morning, and she seemed pleased with it...hopefully the baby shower guests will be too!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Rustic Apple Tart

I love making pies. Really, they are one of my most favorite items to make. I just love the whole process of it...rolling out the bottom layer, layering in the fruit, crimping the top layer, and seeing how beautiful and shiny the egg wash makes it. I will admit, though, that it can be a little time consuming. Last week I held a bake sale, in which I made everything that was sold (and can you believe I took no pictures? Bad blogger!) I decided to take a different pie route and make some rustic tarts (peach, in that case.) I whipped up a bunch of them in no time, and they sold out quickly. I had some pie dough left, and also some odd sized apples that didn't get made into caramel apples for the bake sale table, so today I decided to whip up a rustic apple tart. The results were fabulous. Unfortunately I'm the only one at home that eats apples....darn, just when my shorts were starting to fit again!

Aunt Delia's Perfect Pie Crust
4 1/2 c. flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
2 tsp. salt
1 3/4 c. shortening (*see note!)
1 Tbsp. white or cider vinegar
1 large egg
1/2 c. cold water
Place flour, sugar, and salt in a bowl and mix well. Cut in shortening. In a separate bowl, beat together vinegar, egg, and water. Combine with dry ingredients. Stir until all is moistened. Wrap and chill for 1/2 hour.
*I never use all shortening. I used to use all butter, but recently had a "duh!" moment and realized that was why the crust wouldn't hold it's shape. For the rustic tarts, I used 1 c. shortening and 3/4 c. butter. The results were great; the dough held it's shape perfectly, and the taste of the crust was out of this world.
Once you have your dough, the sky is the limit for the filling. I rolled my dough out into a circle, spread out some brown sugar, sprinkled on cloves and cinnamon. Then I arranged thinly sliced apples within about 3/4 inch of the edge of the dough, sprinkled on more brown sugar, cloves, and cinnamon. Then I just folded the dough around the edges, and brushed on a french egg wash (egg mixed with heavy cream.) My tart was then ready to head into the oven. This apple tart I baked at 400 degrees for about 1/2 hour.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Speckled Pan Brownies

Attention, attention...ladies and gentlemen, I have a very important announce-ment to make (yes I'm being corny, but hear me out...) After weeks....months....years of searching for my perfect brownie, my quest has ended today. Yes, I know...the excitement can hardly be contained. After having one failed attempt today at a recipe that I've actually already made (ok, I will completely admit to failing at more than one baking project this week...I've started to question myself a little!) I went back onto Allrecipes, and found this recipe. Normally, I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to brownie recipes that use cocoa as the main source of chocolatey-ness, but the stack of brownie recipes that I've tried (and not liked) that use melted chocolate told me that maybe I needed to change up my strategy. I found this recipe; it had great reviews, so I gave it a try. Without changing it up. (Yeah, I know...I was a little amazed that I actually followed a recipe.) They are actually called Brooke's Best Bombshell Brownies, but that's a little too many "b"s for me to remember, so I'm calling them Speckled Pan Brownies, since I used my brand new (and completely awesome) red and white speckled pan from At Home America. This pan is larger than the 9x13 that the recipe called for, but that's ok...I like bar cookies a little on the thinner side.




Speckled Pan Brownies
1 c. butter, melted
3 c. white sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
4 eggs
1 1/2 c. flour
1 c. cocoa
1 tsp. salt
1 c. chocolate chips
Combine butter, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add eggs and mix completely.
Add flour, cocoa, and salt (I would recommend sifting the cocoa; I didn't and had a little bit of a difficult time getting lumps out) to wet mixture. Stir until blended. Add in chocolate chips.
Spread batter evenly into a prepared baking pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven until they reach your desired fudgy-ness; baking longer will produce a cakier brownie. I baked these for about 20 minutes, but my batter was spread a little thinner due to the larger pan.
Enjoy!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Red Velvet Whoopie Pies


Em informed me a few weeks ago that she is allowed to bring a birthday treat into school on the second to last day of school, since her birthday is in the summer. At first she requested "gooey brownies," then snickerdoodle-chip muffin tops, but then this morning when she was "eaves dropping" on my Googling for different flavors and recipes for whoopie pies, she decided that THAT was what she wanted. She especially liked the look of the red velvet ones, even though she's never actually had red velvet cake before. I didn't want to send her to school with a birthday treat that she might not like, so I told her before I got her on the bus this morning that I'd make her some for when she got home this afternoon.
Awhile back, around Christmastime, I found this recipe for Red Velvet Whoopie Pies in the Better Homes and Gardens magazine. I remembered it being a pretty easy recipe, and that the cookies baked up nice and pretty. I also remember them having more of a chocolate flavor than the ones I made today had; maybe next time I'll adjust the cocoa/flour.
Red Velvet Whoopie Pies (Better Homes and Gardens)
2 c. flour
2 tbsp. cocoa
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter
1 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 c. buttermilk (I never have buttermilk, so I used just under 1/2 c. milk and then added vinegar to make the whole 1/2 c.)
2 tbsp. liquid red food coloring (surprisingly I actually had this...I don't know why I had liquid, I usually only purchase gel or paste. If you are using paste, you'll have to eye ball it.)
Mix butter and brown sugar until light. Add egg and vanilla beat until fluffy.

Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Alternately add flour mixture and buttermilk into butter, beating after each addition until just combined. Stir in food coloring.
Using an ice cream scoop (side note...if you do not own a good ice cream scoop for cookies, GET ONE! Seriously, it is huge time savor, and an easy way to get same size cookies.) drop cookie batter onto prepared baking sheets. Cookies do spread, so be careful not to place them too close together (I used 1/2 sheet pans, and fit 7 on each pan.)
Bake cookies in a 375 degree oven for about 10ish minutes, until the tops are set. Cool completely before filling.
For the filling, I used a 1/2 recipe of my normal buttercream, but added 2 oz. instant vanilla pudding mix combined with 2 oz. milk. I think I would of liked it better without the vanilla pudding, but when I was looking in my baking cupboard, I spotted it and thought...hey, why not?!!
We'll see when Em gets off the bus today if they pass her "quality testing" or if she will change her mind again between now and next week. She is my kid and so much like me, so chances are she'll like these cookies but STILL change her mind a few more times...and then go back to her original gooey brownies!!!!!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Choco-Peanut Butter Swirl Muffin Tops

I continued on with my muffin quest today and decided to try out some chocolate muffin tops. The original recipe is for choco-choco-chip muffins, but I decided to change it up and add peanut butter. I think the result was pretty good; maybe a little more on the chocolate cake side than muffin side, but still not bad. I loved how they rose up all nice and high and pretty, but didn't like that the edges were crusty. Next time I'll have to be more careful where I spray the pan, I guess. I think that when I make them again in the future, I'll try adding some melted chocolate to the batter, and peanut butter chips throughout instead of just on top.

Choco-Peanut Butter Swirl Muffin Tops
10 oz. flour
1 1/2 oz. cocoa powder
11 oz. white sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 1/4 c. milk, plus an additional 2 oz. (I measured out the first, and weighed out the second for the pb mixture...sorry!)
1 egg
2 tbsp. vegetable oil
1 tsp. vanilla
2 oz. creamy peanut butter (I'm sure you could use crunchy, but I like creamy)
peanut butter chips

In a medium-large bowl, stir together flour, cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In another bowl (I used a large measuring cup) stir together 1 1/4 c. milk, egg, oil, and vanilla. Add wet ingredients into the dry (I know this backwards, but I was taught to do this at the last place I worked...it overmixes the batter a little, but you end up with higher tops) and mix well.

Measure out about 7 oz. of the chocolate batter, and add peanut butter and 2 oz. milk. Mix together until smooth.

Spray your muffin top pans with cooking spray. Using an ice cream scoop, fill each cup to almost the top. Spoon the peanut butter batter equally into each cup and swirl around. Top with some peanut butter chips.

Bake in a 350 degree oven until the tops spring back when touched.

I would really also recommend adding the peanut butter chips to the chocolate batter, as the muffin was a little "blah" without.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Am I really a cake moron?

I guess one can say I definitely learned from my cake making mistakes this week. I am the type of cake maker that loves to be put up to a challenge; there is nothing that I won't try. And I will also be the very first to admit that I am a complete know-it-all, and thought that I absolutely knew to a "T" how to do this cake...it's pretty simple after all, right? Ha!

So my neighbor, Jill, is one of my best friends. I mean, she is like the "borrow a cup of sugar" type of neighbor (although she would actually borrow the sugar from me...the only sugar she usually has is the little packets that you put in your coffee...but you get the idea.) There have been many of times in the past few years that I have run to her house, annoyed with life and needing someone to talk to, and vice versa. She's the only person that I don't mind a "drop by unannounced" visit from. She knows all of my secrets, and I am pretty sure I know most, if not all of hers. She is a one in a million friend and person. So this week was her birthday, and I wanted to make her a cake. They are having a bbq today, so I thought that would be a perfect excuse to make a "for real" cake and not just a round, generic "Happy Birthday!" cake. She collects fairies, so there was my theme. I looked through pages upon pages of pictures at Cake Central, Flickr, Google to get some ideas, and finally decided on a tree stump with a giant mushroom on top, and fairies sitting underneath the mushroom. Easy-peasy, right? I started with the fairies, making them out of fondant (the last time I made figures I used only gumpaste, and because I'm a bit inexperienced at making figures, the gumpaste was hardening too fast for me.) So everything was going great till I got to the face. I tried sculpting the face. I tried painting the face. Yeah...let's just say I'm not a talented painter. I remembered seeing face molds in the clay section at Michael's, and I found a 50% off coupon (which made the molds something like $3.50.) Once the fairies were done, I was pretty happy with them. So on to the mushroom. I decided to use rice krispy treat, another medium that I have not worked with much. Looking back, I should of mixed some white chocolate into the marshmallow mixture, because the mushroom would NOT harden up enough. It started to crack...I patched it up and went with it anyway. Biggggggg mistake. Let me say that again. Biggggggggggg mistake. I covered the mushroom in fondant, painted it, and it looked pretty cool, but was way heavy. So next the cake. I used 12in, 10in, and 2 8in rounds. The 10in and one of the 8in I torted. I sculpted it some, crumb coated it, and the next day covered it in fondant...I had my tree stump, and man it looked great. However, my mushroom was not looking so hot. I patched it up again, and decided to go with it. Ok, one more time....bigggggg mistake. I put it on the tree, in the back part (uhhhh, DUH?! That mushroom was so heavy, and there was NOT enough support) so of course, that part of the cake started to squish. And then.....the base of the mushroom started to split. I decided to cut my losses with the mushroom, tossed it in the trash...but then was left with a crater in the top of the cake from where the heavy mushroom sank. Quick thinking came up with a puddle made out of blue tinted piping gel.

I hate it that I get ahead of myself a lot of the time with cakes, and don't completely think things through. I had no support in the cake, no support under that darn mushroom. What was I thinking?! I kind of wish to do another of these cakes soon, to redeem myself!!!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Snickerdoodle-Chip Muffins

Yum. Yum. Yum. That is what comes to mind with these muffins. They should have a halo over their shiny sugary little heads, they are so perfect and angelic. Moist, melt in your mouth.....*sigh*...yum.
I will be the first to admit that I have had muffin troubles in the past, so I have put my brownie quest aside for now, and have ventured out on a new journey to find some really perfect muffin recipes. This recipe was originally for French Breakfast Muffins (and I sincerely apologize that I do not know which blog I found it on;) I'm sure it was great as it was, but I really wanted to change it up so that...well, uhhh...so that I could call them Snickerdoodle-Chip Muffins. Silly, I know, but still...yum.

Snickerdoodle-Chip Muffins
1 stick butter, divided
1/2 c. milk
1 egg
1 healthy glug of vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
6 oz. chocolate chips (I used semi-sweet because that was what I had, but next time I will make them with milk chocolate)

Melt 1/3 c. butter in a microwave safe bowl. Whisk in milk, egg, and vanilla. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, nutmeg, cloves, and cinnamon. Stir in wet ingredients until just combined. Add in chocolate chips.

In a greased muffin tin, scoop batter equally into 9 portions. Bake for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick poked in the center comes out clean.

For the topping, mix 1/3c. sugar, a heaping 1/4 tsp. cinnamon together in one bowl. In another bowl, melt remaining butter. Take warm muffins and dip them first in the butter, and then in the sugar.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Cookie Tray Cookies

I've been neglecting the blog a little lately; I have been trying to avoid the boredom baking that has been leading to my weight gain! If my baking doesn't have a purpose, I can't do it. These cookies, however, had a purpose in their short little lives. I decided to send a tray of cookies into work with Ad a few weeks ago for his birthday (it's like sending treats into school with your kid to share with their friends! Haha!) While I was planning out my game plan for what I was going to make, someone Ad works with asked me to donate some items for a fundraiser bake sale that was also that weekend. Here are a few items that I made...

These oatmeal cookies were a last minute idea; I needed something else to add that were quick, easy, and used ingredients that I had. This recipe started from Beth's Spicy Oatmeal Raisin Cookies on Allrecipes, but I was low on oatmeal, so I changed it up a little. You can mess with the spices some too; I absolutely love cloves, so I added extra. I think these are one of my new favorites.

Oatmeal Cookies
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup shortening
1 c. packed brown sugar
1/2 c. white sugar
2 eggs
1 tbsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. cloves
1/2 tsp. salt
2 c. oats
1 pkg. white chocolate chips
Cream butter, shortening and sugars. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until light and fluffy. Add in remaining ingredients except for white chocolate chips and mix well. Stir in chips.
Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for about 10 minutes in a 350 degree oven.



These No Bake Cookies are so old school, yet so many people don't know what they are. I love them. They are so easy to throw together, and are really more of a candy than a cookie. These are another great cookie to add to cookie trays because they are something a little different, and they require no baking (I actually made these because I was almost out of propane, but wanted to get one more cookie in!)

No Bake Cookies
2 c. white sugar
1/4 c. cocoa
1/2 c. milk
1/2 c. butter
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 tsp. salt
1/2 c. peanut butter
3 c. quick cooking oats
In a saucepan, combine sugar, cocoa, milk, and butter. Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil for 1 minute, then remove from heat and stir in vanilla, salt, peanut butter, and oats.
Drop by spoonfuls onto waxed paper. Cookies will firm up when completely cool.



I love how decorated sugar cookies look, and really wanted to add some to Ad's tray. I am in search of a new sugar cookie recipe, as well, so this was a good chance for me to try out the No Fail Sugar Cookies on Cake Central. The recipe itself was easy to put together, the dough rolled nicely, and the cookies didn't spread at all. However, if I even just slightly overbaked them (meaning, if the bottoms got just a tiny bit golden) the cookies were hard as rocks! The ones that were still light on the bottom were great, though, and had really nice flavor. I followed the recipe exactly, other than cutting it in half. You can find the recipe here.
For the icing, I just made a simple royal icing...no measurements, just egg white and confectioner's sugar until it got to the right consistency. The only bad thing about making these cookies is that I had them laying out on the kitchen table to dry, and Cam kept poking them to see if they were ready! I ended up with maybe only a dozen good ones that didn't have round finger holes in the icing! Ugh! Kids!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Kit Kat and M&M Birthday Cake

Today is Ad's birthday. I'm not even going to pretend I'm going to lie and say that I didn't try to take the easy way out with his cake...I totally did. I really like to make the big, over the top cakes for him and the girls, but it gets to a point where it's such a waste. It's nothing but a picture to put in my portfolio. And a ton of cake that gets tossed in the garbage. I first came across candy cakes back in February when I was lurking around on Cake Central, and loved the idea. Not only are they a cool idea, they are way easy to make. No smoothing out of the icing, no piping bags....Ad loves Kit Kats, and Cam could live on M&M's, so I decided this cake would be perfect for today. I even made it, start to finish, in just a few hours...including cooling time. What cake decorator wouldn't love a cake like this?!

I used my mom's Snowy White Cake, which I've changed up some...ok, I've changed up a lot. Don't get me wrong, I love her version, but always found it "crummy" and a little difficult to ice. Here is my version...

2 1/3 c. flour
1 1/2 c. sugar
4 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. butter
1/2 c. Sunny D (I've never tried actual orange juice)
2/3 c. milk
1 tsp. vanilla
1/4 c. sour cream
2 eggs (or 1 egg and 2 whites...sometimes it depends on how short I am on eggs. It works a little nicer to use the egg whites, but let's face it...I'm way cheap.)

Cream together butter and sugar. Add remaining ingredients except eggs and mix well. Add eggs and beat for two minutes. Bake at 350 degrees until top springs back.

The amounts of this recipe work great for 2 8" rounds. Another hint, too...when using this recipe to make cupcakes, fill the tins and then let them sit out for at least 15 minutes. They will get a nicer (higher) top on them.

For the frosting, I used my normal sugar-high buttercream...
2lbs confectioners sugar
1 1/2 sticks butter (or if you want it to crust, use 1 stick of butter, 1/4 c. shortening)
some vanilla
pinch or so of salt
milk

I place everything in the mixer except for the milk, and then add the milk until I get the right consistency, and then whip it till it's fluffy. If you add too much milk, add some more confectioners sugar.

Cool and trim the cake so that it is level, then fill and ice the outside and top. Next take your Kit Kats (I needed 4 of the large packages,) break them into two bar sections, and start placing them around your cake. When you are done, spread M&M's on the top, making sure that you cover all of your icing. And then finally, tie a bow around the cake! Voila!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Chocolate Mousse

While I was Googling around today, I stumbled upon this profession-ally taken photo of a chocolate mousse that I made while working at the cafe. I have always been disappointed that I never got any photos of the desserts that I made while working there, so you can imagine my extreme surprise and excitement when I found this! The photo was taken by Jaime Reed Photography . Thanks, Jaime, for letting me use this great photo!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Daring Bakers-April

Yikes! Has it really been a month since I've last posted? A week away, the flu, and a daughter's tonsillec-tomy will do that to a blogger, I guess. Anyway, when I saw this month's Daring Baker's challenge I was excited. A cheesecake, and we could "change it up!" Right up my alley. Not to mention this month was Ad and my 10 year anniversary of our first date (awwwwww!) so it was good timing for a special dessert. After making Ad try something with spinach last month, I decided to make an orange-chocolate cheesecake, which is a combination that we both really love. The recipe was great and tasted awesome, but I second guessed myself and ended up underbaking it (even though I left it in 15 minutes longer than the recipe called for.) I would definitely make this again, to see how it turns out after it bakes for the right amount of time.

Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake
crust:
2 cups / 180 g graham cracker crumbs
1 stick / 4 oz butter, melted
2 tbsp. / 24 g sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
cheesecake:
3 sticks of cream cheese, 8 oz each (total of 24 oz) room temperature
1 cup / 210 g sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup / 8 oz heavy cream
1 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. vanilla extract (or the innards of a vanilla bean)
1 tbsp liqueur, optional, but choose what will work well with your cheesecake

DIRECTIONS:1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (Gas Mark 4 = 180C = Moderate heat). Begin to boil a large pot of water for the water bath.
2. Mix together the crust ingredients and press into your preferred pan. You can press the crust just into the bottom, or up the sides of the pan too - baker's choice. Set crust aside.
3. Combine cream cheese and sugar in the bowl of a stand-mixer (or in a large bowl if using a hand-mixer) and cream together until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, fully incorporating each before adding the next. Make sure to scrape down the bowl in between each egg. Add heavy cream, vanilla, lemon juice, and alcohol and blend until smooth and creamy.
4. Pour batter into prepared crust and tap the pan on the counter a few times to bring all air bubbles to the surface. Place pan into a larger pan and pour boiling water into the larger pan until halfway up the side of the cheesecake pan. If cheesecake pan is not airtight, cover bottom securely with foil before adding water.
5. Bake 45 to 55 minutes, until it is almost done - this can be hard to judge, but you're looking for the cake to hold together, but still have a lot of jiggle to it in the center. You don't want it to be completely firm at this stage. Close the oven door, turn the heat off, and let rest in the cooling oven for one hour. This lets the cake finish cooking and cool down gently enough so that it won't crack on the top. After one hour, remove cheesecake from oven and lift carefully out of water bath. Let it finish cooling on the counter, and then cover and put in the fridge to chill. Once fully chilled, it is ready to serve.

For my version, I chose to combine crushed Oreos and and butter to make the crust (sorry, I forget to get any measurements.) I pureed a small, drained can of mandarin oranges and 6 oz. of orange marmalade, and added it to about 2/3 (maybe a little more) of the cheesecake batter. In the other portion of the batter I added 6 oz. of melted milk chocolate (leftover Easter candy!) I put the orange batter on top of my crust first, then swirled in my chocolate batter. For the topping, I had originally planned on making ganache, but my neighbor borrowed my heavy cream and wasn't home when I was ready to make it so I decided just to drizzle melted milk chocolate over each slice and then top it with large crystal sugar. Not the exciting decoration that I had planned in my head, but it really was a yummy cheesecake. I think next time I'm looking to make a cheesecake I will refer back to the original recipe and try it out again.

The April 2009 challenge is hosted by Jenny from Jenny Bakes. She has chosen Abbey's Infamous Cheesecake as the challenge.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Daring Bakers March- Spinach Lasagna

This is my second Daring Bakers challenge, and after last month's flourless chocolate cake, definitely not what I expected. I must say, I was very disappointed when I saw homemade spinach lasagna noodles...I knew that was going to be a hard, if not impossible sell with Ad. However, I've been a little more motivated in the cooking area lately, so although it took me a few weeks to get motivated to actually make this lasagna, it got made. If you knew Ad, you would understand my complete shock when he actually tried it. Seriously, the guy doesn't eat any veggies or fruit (something that has rubbed off on the girls, unfortunately.) And spinach has always been a joke with him and his dad "I made sure to put extra spinach in for you!" But I give him props, he ate it. He didn't like it, but he ate it. I must say, I didn't really care for it much either. It was better after it had sat for a day or so, but even then, the noodles were something I wouldn't make again. The recipe itself needed some adjusting (hence the reason I'm not posting it) and the assembly of the lasagna called for bechamel. I guess I'm an all-American kind of girl...I did not care for the bechamel. I will say, though, that I did actually enjoy being more creative in the kitchen on the cooking side of things, and it motivated me to join the new Daring Cooks! Let's hope there is no more spinach lasagna!

The March 2009 challenge is hosted by Mary of Beans and Caviar, Melinda of Melbourne Larder and Enza of Io Da Grande. They have chosen Lasagne of Emilia-Romagna from The Splendid Table by Lynne Rossetto Kasper as the challenge.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Super Soft Brownie Cookies

Days like these I think God has a cruel sense of humor... why is it that I can bake super yummy things, but can't eat any more than a tiny nibble (if that!) without gaining 10lbs?! With not working, I have had an overwhelming need to bake; it's what keeps me sane! So I end up with little masterpieces like these cookies on my counter...crying out for a home! In all seriousness, these cookies rocked. I wasn't exactly expecting greatness, and the original recipe was a little blah. I decided to add some chocolate fudge pudding mix and some chopped white chocolate to make it a little more interesting. The end result was a soft, brownie like cookie. Yummmmmm.....

Super Soft Brownie Cookies
1 cup butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
1 pkg. chocolate fudge instant pudding mix
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 eggs
10 oz. chopped white chocolate
2 c. flour
2/3 c. cocoa
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt

Cream butter and sugar until light. Add pudding mix and vanilla, then eggs. Mix for a few minutes, until fluffy. Add in white chocolate and mix for another minute or so.

Normally in cookies, I would add the chocolate in the end. This time, I decided to throw the chopped white chocolate in before the flour, in hopes that the chocolate would break up a little more from the added mixing, and would get incorporated into the batter a little more.

Ok. So after the chocolate is mixed in, add the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Roll dough into teaspoon sized balls and place on an ungreased baking pan. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes.

Another thing about this recipe...these cookies only "crackled" when I baked them on the top rack of my oven. I baked one tray on the bottom rack, and the cookies were flat. The others that were baked on the top rack puffed up nicely and got that nice glossy crackle. My oven racks aren't even that far apart, so I'm not too sure what the deal is. But a heads up anyway.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Coconut Cream Pie...who knew?

Waking up this morning, I never would of thought I'd be ending the day by whipping up a coconut cream pie. While I was cooking dinner, my neighbor stopped by to ask if I would make the pie for her...sure, no problem! Hey, it gives me a reason to bake and blog! I actually had all of the ingredients (well, only because I chose to change the recipe) except for a couple, which I borrowed from different neighbor. I've never actually eaten a coconut cream pie, and I only tasted the filling of this one; I thought it tasted pretty yummy, so hopefully my neighbor does too.
Coconut Cream Pie
1 13.5 oz. can coconut milk
1 1/4 c. heavy cream, divided
1/2 cup milk
2 eggs
1 c. sugar, divided
1/2 c. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla
3/4 c. coconut, plus additional for the top
1 graham cracker crust or graham crackers and butter to make a crust

In a saucepan, whisk together coconut milk, 1/2 c. heavy cream, milk, eggs, 3/4 c. sugar, flour, and salt. Continue whisking and bring to a boil on medium-low heat. Mixture will get nice and custardy-thick (think pastry cream.) Add vanilla and 3/4 c. coconut. Spread evenly into your crust. Place in the refrigerator and let set up for at least 2 hours.

Spread additional coconut (I used about 1/3 c.) onto a cookie sheet. Place in a preheated 400 degree oven, checking and "stirring" it often so the coconut toasts evenly and does not burn. Let cool.

Place remaining heavy cream in a mixing bowl and start whipping. Add remaining 1/4 c. sugar and continue whipping until the cream is stiff. Spread onto the top of the pie. Add toasted coconut.



Monday, March 16, 2009

Red Ape Cinnamon and Snickerdoodle M&M Cookies

Last week something super exciting happened..someone saw my blog and wanted me to try out a product. I am the type of person that loves surveys and product reviews (I also am a Bzzagent) so I couldn't wait to try out the Red Ape Cinnamon that showed up on my doorstep. The first thing I noticed was that it was lighter in color than my normal cinnamon, and when I compared the smell, I couldn't believe the difference. The Red Ape cinnamon smelled sweet and clean; mine smelled dirty. You can just tell it's good quality. A 1lb bag is $13, which is pretty good. You can find out more about it here.


So with my Red Ape cinnamon, I decided to make some simple snicker-doodles with Easter colored M&M's.

Snickerdoodles with M&M's
1 c. butter
1/4 c. white sugar
3/4 c. brown sugar, packed
2 tbsp. vanilla extract
1 pkg. cheesecake flavored instant pudding mix (you could easily use vanilla flavored)
2 eggs
2 1/2 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 pkg. M&M's
cinnamon sugar

Cream butter and sugar until light, add vanilla and pudding mix and continue mixing. Beat in eggs and let it mix for a few minutes, until it's really fluffy. (I recently purchased the Beater Blade for my Kitchenaid...TOTALLY worth it! It's really easy to get my butter and egg mixture white and fluffy.) Stir in the flour, baking soda and cinnamon until completely incorporated and then mix in about 1/2 a bag of M&M's (use more or less, but save some for the cookie tops.)

When I made them, I actually separated the dough in half before I put the cinnamon in. In on half, I added the cinnamon, in the other I added the M&M's. Then I kind of "swirled" the dough. In the future, I will skip this step; if the cinnamon dough was a little darker, you would of been able tell it was swirled, but to me it seemed like more work for not a lot of results. Anyway...

Roll cookie dough into balls (I would say teaspoon size...big enough so you can fit 3 M&M's on it) and then into the cinnamon sugar. Add the M&M's on top. Place on a cookie sheet and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 8-10 minutes.

These weren't my absoloute favorite cookies, but Adam loved them. He gave Red Ape cinnamon two thumbs up.


Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hawaiian Bridal Shower Cake

Normally I like to keep my cakes separate from this blog, but I loved how this Hawaiian themed engagement/bridal shower cake turned out. It's a scratch white almond cake with whipped milk chocolate (Hershey Kisses, actually!) ganache filling. Just wanted to share!

Monday, March 9, 2009

Doughnuts on a Sunday Morning


















For a while now, I've been wanting to make some homemade doughnuts. These are another thing I remember making with my mom when I was little; I preferred the yeast kind, but hated having to wait for the dough to rise twice before they could be fried and be glazed. I'm really not much of a doughnut person; I think it's just the memories of making them with my mom that I like so much. So yesterday I finally got up enough ambition to whip these up; and I think I got doughnut making out of my system for awhile. These tasted pretty good but they weren't as airy as I would of liked. I guess I probably could of let them rise a little longer. In the end, I had big tray of various doughnuts, and the usual "Uh oh....now what do I do with them?" So I plated them up and sent them into work with Ad. I found the recipe for these doughnuts on Allrecipes; I actually followed it pretty closely, only substituting butter for the shortening. You can find the recipe here. I think if I do make doughnuts again, I will call my mom and try out her recipe. Ad likes the doughnuts from Dunkin that have the chocolate frosting-like-creme in them, so I made a thin, whipped buttercream and used a bismark tip to fill them (this filling is in the heart shaped ones that are covered with confectioners sugar, and the stick ones with the sprinkles.) They were good, but silly me...filled them before they were cooled all the way, so the buttercream melted some. Oh well. Surprisingly, Emily actually really liked these doughnuts (she is not a big sweets eater) so I have a feeling she might be requesting me to make them again soon.

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Chocolate Valentino and Cinnamon Ice Cream













Back in the fall, I came across http://www.tastespotting.com/ and it quickly became one of those sites that I had to check every day. I love looking at pictures of food, and that's exactly what that site is...beautifully taken pictures of any type of food you can imagine. While on the site, I kept seeing "Daring Bakers" pictures and was intrigued. Finally last month I decided to join up, and my first challenge was Chocolate Valentino (Flourless Chocolate Cake) and homemade ice cream. It was a great challenge, perfect for Valentines Day.


The February 2009 challenge is hosted by Wendy of WMPE's blog and Dharm of Dad ~ Baker & Chef.We have chosen a Chocolate Valentino cake by Chef Wan; a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Dharm and a Vanilla Ice Cream recipe from Wendy as the challenge.


Chocolate Valentino
1 lb semi-sweet chocolate, rough chopped (I used chocolate chips)
1/2 cup plus 2 tbs. unsalted butter
5 large eggs, separated

-Place your chocolate and butter in a double boiler and melt, stirring often.
-Place egg yolks in one mixing bowl, whites in another. Whip up whites until stiff peaks form, but do not over mix (the result will be a dry cake.)
-With the same beater, beat the egg yolks together. Add to cooled chocolate.
-Fold 1/3 egg whites into the chocolate mixture, and then the remaining 2/3. Mix until no white shows, but be careful not to deflate.
-Pour batter into a prepared pan (3/4 full) and bake in a preheated 375 degree oven. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer reaches 140 degrees (cake top will look like a brownie, and a cake tester will appear wet.)
-Cool for 10 minutes and then unmold.



Cinnamon Ice Cream
1 c. white sugar
2 c. heavy cream (divided)
1/2 c. milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. cinnamon

In a saucepan, stir together sugar, 1 c. heavy cream, and milk. When the mixture begins to simmer, remove from heat and temper eggs. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and stir in remaining heavy cream. Cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat and add in vanilla and cinnamon.

At this point, I was too lazy to try to get my ice cream maker out of our storage shed (to be honest, I don't think I could of gotten it out,) so I chose to go the longer, non-ice cream maker route. I placed the mixture in a shallow dish, and put it in the freezer. Every 30-45 minutes I stirred it, making sure that the edges were scraped. The end result was awesome; super creamy.

The cake was incredibly chocolaty and a little on the bitter side. By itself, I didn't care for it. When I paired it with whipped chocolate ganache and the cinnamon ice cream, it was unbelievable. SO GOOD.

All in all, my first challenge with the Daring Bakers was quite successful! I am really looking forward to the next challenge!

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Ice cream cone cupcakes


I have been wanting to do some decorating with the girls lately, and decided this morning to make ice cream cone cupcakes. They were pretty excited about the idea, and I was too. I remember when I was little, my mom making these for me one year to take to school for my birthday. My birthday is tomorrow, so maybe I was being a little nostalgic...feeling "old" and remembering when I helped my mom make them. Em had wanted to make a big swirl on the cupcakes, but since my normal frosting is pretty heavy, I decided to try out 7 Minute Frosting. I've wanted to make it for a long time, but just never really had a reason to. I whipped up a batch of it, and it was really, really yummy; a lot like marshmallow fluff. I made it this morning, and have been craving a fluffernutter ever since.

7 Minute Frosting
1 3/4 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
4 egg whites
1 tsp. vanilla


In a saucepan, bring sugar and water to a boil. Boil until a candy thermometer reads 242 degrees (about 4 or 5 minutes.) Meanwhile, beat egg whites in a mixing bowl until foamy. While beating, stream hot sugar into the eggs. Beat on high for about 7 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Add vanilla, and continue beating for another 2 minutes.

To make the cupcakes, I used the Moosewood Chocolate Cake recipe. I have another chocolate cake recipe that I like a little better, but the Moosewood is so incredibly quick and easy to whip up. The flavor is great, it is moist, and I've also found that it's a pretty decent recipe to use when I need to carve a cake. Anyway, I placed the ice cream cones in muffin tins and filled them with the cake batter (about 1/2 inch from the top.) I thought maybe I overfilled them, as a few spilled over, but now looking back at the Moosewood site, I think maybe I have my recipe written down wrong (I think I only have 1/2 tsp. of baking soda written...and I've been making it that way for the last year! LOL!) One recipe filled 12 ice cream cones. Then just carefully place them in a preheated oven and bake!

I let the frosting refrigerate for a few hours before I had the girls frost the cupcakes. It firmed it up a little more and made it a little easier for a kid to work with.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Tuxedo Strawberries


I'm not going to lie...I'm a little embarrassed to post about these. I am SO out of practice! But I haven't posted in a few days, so I figured I might as well. On Saturday we are having Ad's mom up for Valentine's lunch, and she loves chocolate covered strawberries. I make them for her a few times a year, so I decided to make these tuxedo strawberries to garnish the dessert I'm making, and also make extra for her take home. The last time I made tuxedos was last Valentine's; I think I should make them a little more often to keep in practice! I just couldn't get my "v"'s consistent on all the strawberries, and the bows...forget about it! Maybe I can blame it on "background distractions?" I'm not a big chocolate covered strawberry person, but I ate a few to "hide" my mistakes...maybe there is something about the chocolate not being set up all the way that makes them taste better to me? I don't know, but they were awesome. I could of eaten the whole tray, but I have to keep remembering...beach in April!

Friday, February 6, 2009

Blondies

Blondies, like brownies, are one of those things that I've always struggled with. I've just never been able to find a recipe that I really liked...until today. I finally made it out last night and got some items to replenish the Pantry, and was originally planning on making some kind of biscotti. I ended up searching Allrecipes for top recipes that used chocolate chips, and came across one for blondies, and figured I'd give it a go. Of course, I had to mess with the original recipe (you'd think 400 people rating it 5 stars would tell me it's already perfect, right?....Uhhhh, no.) but I really liked the end result.

Blondies
2/3 c. melted butter
2 c. brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
a couple glugs of vanilla extract (around 1 tbsp.)
2 c. all purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. shredded coconut (I put this through a small food processor to make it finer)
1 pkg. chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Mix together butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until light and on the fluffier side (you won't be able to get it super fluffy because the butter is melted, but it will increase some in volume.) Add in the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and coconut until combined. Mix in chocolate chips.

Spread batter evenly in a prepared 9x13 pan (I actually will probably use either a 11x15 or a 1/2 sheet next time, as I like bar cookies to be on the thin and wide side.) Bake for approximately 30 minutes. They will be slightly gooey on the inside, but will set up when cooled.

I think the only thing I will do differently next time is use milk chocolate chips...the store I went to was out of them last night, and semi-sweet were only $1.24 a package...I'm just not a big fan of semi-sweet, though. Still, the blondies were still great, and I will be cutting them up in the morning and adding them to my shipment of other cookies to send to a solider in Iraq!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Operation Baking Gals R6















Saturday starts a new round of Operation Baking Gals, so I'm stocking the freezer with a few types of cookies so that I'm all ready to pack my box early in the shipping period. As I've said in other posts, I love versitile cookie doughs. My favorite chocolate chip cookie dough (other than one that I've already posted) is one that I can do so many things with. Today I chose to make Valentine Sugar Cookies and Andes Mint Chocolate Cookies out of the dough.

Cookie Dough
1 c. butter, softened
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1/4 c. white sugar
1 pkg. instant pudding mix
2 eggs
1/2 tbsp. vanilla (I really just do a few glugs)
1/2 tbsp. butter flavoring (the pantry has been out of this, as well)
2 1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Cream together butter, brown sugar, and white sugar for a few minutes. Add pudding mix and extracts. Beat in eggs until mixture is really light and fluffy. Add flour and baking soda and mix until well combined.

For the sugar cookies, I used vanilla pudding mix. I rolled tbsp. full of dough in sugar/sprinkle mix (the dough is soft and sticky, so you have to put it in the sugar first and then roll it) and then baked on ungreased cookie sheets for about 10 or so minutes, or until the edges just started to get golden. You can check the bottoms, too; they should just be light brown.

For the Andes Cookies, I used chocolate pudding mix and added 1 bag of Andes baking chips after my flour was combined. Then I just dropped tbsp. full of dough on ungreased cookie sheets and baked for about 10 minutes. Be careful not to overbake, though...I let a few go a little long. These don't look the most beautiful; if I weren't shipping them off to Iraq and had to worry about the "melting" factor, I would of melted more Andes chips and striped them.

I have done so many things with this recipe; added butterscotch chips and chopped honey roasted peanuts...coconut and white chocolate chips...there are SO many different things you can do, especially when you factor in the many types of pudding mix that are out there!

These cookies are INCREDIBLY good, but I have recently realized that if I go "cheap" and use margarine instead of butter, they are too soft and will stick to each other when stored.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Baking Gals Thank You

I just received a letter today from SFC Alex Herrera, who is stationed in Iraq, thanking Baking Gals for the shipment of cookies that we sent. It was really great of Alex to send a letter, along with a picture. I'm glad that they enjoyed them!