Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Holiday Baking Extravaganza

Wouldn't you like to get a box of Holiday goodies like this?
I know I would. So after 3 days of work this is what my neighbors and P and my co-workers got as holiday presents. The contents follow below!


Pistachio Spice Cookies and Spritz Cookies

7 Layer Bars


Ingredients -
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of graham cracker crumbs
1 stick of butter
1 bag of chocolate chips
1 bag of butterscotch chips
3/4 of a bag of sweetened coconut
1/2 cup of pecans

Preheat oven to 350.

Melt butter in 9x13 pan and cover with graham cracker crumbs. Then top with coconut, chocolate chips, butter scotch chips, pecans and once all of those layers have been added pour the milk all over the whole pan. Bake for 30 minutes and let cool completely before cutting into squares.

Bookmark and Share

Chocolate Barks


White Chocolate Peppermint Bark, Milk Chocolate Pistachio Cranberry Bark, Dark Chocolate Cherry Almond Bark and Dark Chocolate Cherry Bark all basically follow the same easy steps.

1. Melt desired amount of chocolate in a double boiler. I use 2 bags for each batch so it will fit on a cookie sheet.
2. Once melted stir in your other ingredients and spread on a parchment paper lined cookie sheet. Or in the case of the White Chocolate Peppermint Bark just sprinkle the pieces on top. Its really however you want it.
3. Place in the fridge to cool until hard and then break into pieces.

Spiral Snickerdoodles


Ingredients for the cookie
1 cup of butter
1 1/4 cups of sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups of AP Flour
1 1/2 teaspoons of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of salt

Combine the Flour, baking powder and salt and set aside.

Cream together the sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Then add the eggs one at a time making sure to mix well. Add in the vanilla and mix until blended. Add in the flour gradually in 3 additions being careful to not over mix.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and shape into a ball. Divide the dough in half and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, I normally do this over night.

For the filling
1/2 cup of sugar
2 tablespoons of cinnamon
1/4 of a cup of melted butter

Combine the sugar and cinnamon.

Once the dough has chilled. Take it out and place it on a floured surface roll it out to about 1/4 of an inch thick. Try to make it as rectangular as possible. Then take the melted butter and brush it on the whole dough with a pastry brush and then sprinkle on the cinnamon sugar mixture. Then starting from the longer end roll it up like a cinnamon roll. Once you have it all rolled up wrap it in plastic wrap and refridgerate it again for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes take it out and slice it into 1/4 of an inch slices and place 2 inches apart as these cookies tend to spread out.

Preheat the oven to 350 and bake on ungreased cookie sheets for 12-14 minutes. As always I always under cook my cookies so bake them until the firmness you like and then finish cooling on a cooling rack and enjoy.

Peanut Butter Cookies


Ingredients -
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of shortening
1 cup of peanut butter
2 eggs
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking soda
3 cups of AP Flour

Preheat the oven to 375.

Combine the flour, salt, and baking soda in a bowl and set aside.
Cream together the butter and the sugars, once combined add the peanut butter and stir to combine. Add the eggs in one at a time making sure to mix well after each one. Add the vanilla extract and then slowly add in the flour mixture it will look crumbly at times but will work into a very nice looking dough.

Take rounded tablespoons and place on a ungreased baking sheet for 12-15 minutes. I normally just watch until they start to slightly brown on the edges and then I pull them out and move them directly to a cooling rack. I like my cookies chewy not hard though so the time will depends on how you like your cookies.

Double Chocolate Cookies


Ingredients -
2 1/4 cups of AP Flour
2/3 cup of baking cocoa
1 teaspoon of baking soda
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup of butter at room temperature
3/4 cup of sugar
2/3 cup of brown sugar
2 teaspoons of vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 package of white chocolate chips
It is important to find white chocolate chips not white baking chips which are not chocolate at all. And yes I know white chocolate isn't really chocolate either but lets not get into that.

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt in a bowl and set aside. Cream together butter, sugars and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add in the eggs one at a time. Add the flour mixture gradually in 3 parts. Once combined stir in the white chocolate chips. You can form these into golf ball size balls or rounded teaspoons depending on what size of cookies you are looking for and bigger is better in my book. Place on a ungreased baking sheet about an inch or so apart.

Bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes then move them to a cooling rack and while they are still slightly warm move them to your storage container. They will stay nice and soft for you this way.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Bacon Brittle


I have been cooking in the kitchen however nothing really all that blog worthy. So to break myself in I tried something I have never done before, Candy making. Well it was actually pretty easy so I don't know if it can truly be called candymaking. As alot of bloggers do I have many saved recipes that I see on other blogs or websites that I want to try so I save them or print them. ( I know horrible how many trees I have killed) Never the less I wanted to get my head back in the game as this weekend my kitchen will be cookie baking central. Well not just cookies but I digress. So i attempted to make Bacon Brittle. And I must say it turned out nicely. P and I went to Fresh Market and picked out some nice Applewood smoked bacon for this as I knew regular bacon would just not do for something like this. I then broke out my new All Clad 3 qt. Saucier. And started cooking sugar. After cooking it to the nice tan shade that you see I mixed in the Bacon pieces and laid it all out on the Silpat. I must say it is a strange combination however it is very good. A nice combo of Salty and Sweet.

Before the breaking.......

After the breaking....

I used the recipe posted on Off the Bone.

Kitchen is done

Well it was done last week I'm just a little late to post the final pictures. So here they are.




Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Countertops and a Working Sink

After Thursday and Friday my kitchen will hopefully be complete. Countertops will be in and the sink and dishwasher will be hooked up. It has been a long process and I can't wait for it to be over.

Monday, October 29, 2007

I can start to cook again

Microwave and Stove are in. No sink yet but P can wash dishes in the bathtub. Soon to come some simple dishes as I don't want to do to many dishes.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Cabinets are Done

They just need to be filled, which will take longer than it took to install them.


Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Things are starting to come together

Floors are done and cabinets are half in. Its starting to get exciting.





Friday, October 19, 2007

More Kitchen Remodel Pictures

We are slowly making headway. I will be taking more pictures tonight of the new floor that is being installed.




Sunday, October 14, 2007

Kitchen Remodel

My Blog will be on a slight hiatus and has been because of our kitchen remodel it starts this week but we had to clear out the entire kitchen which took us almost all week and most of today. Here are some pictures from before and I'll post the after later.




My First Challenge

Bananas Foster Cupcakes


I love Bananas Foster so when I saw the cupcake challenge over at Cupcake Bakeshop and Vanilla Garlic for reinvention it just came to me. So here goes on my very first challenge. I will post all the recipes and then how to assemble.

Banana Cupcakes

1 1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup butter
2 eggs
1 teaspoon baking soda
4 tablespoons sour cream
1 1/2 cup banana, mashed
1 1/2 cups AP Flour
1 table spoon vanilla

Cream butter and sugar, add eggs and when they are incorporated add the sour cream.
Beat well, then add bananas, flour, baking soda and vanilla.
Bake in a 350 degree oven. Fill the cupcake liners 3/4 of the way. Use the foil cupcake liners so that it can hold the rum syrup.
Bake for 20-25 minutes until it is lightly golden brown. Cool in the muffin pan.
This will probably make 18 cupcakes. I only had time to make 12 so Im not sure exactly how many it will make.

Rum Syrup

1/2 cup of sugar
1/8 a cup of water
2 table spoons of butter
1 table spoon of rum

Combine the sugar, water and butter in a sauce pan and let it start to bubble at the edges. Take it off the heat and add the rum. Put it back on the heat and let it come back up to a simmer.

Cinnamon Caramel Frosting adapted from Double Caramel Cake

3 cups of brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons of half and half
4 tablespoons of butter
1 teaspoon of vanilla
1 1/2 teaspoons of cinnamon

Mix the sugar and half and half in a sauce pan and cook over low heat until it reaches the soft ball stage or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat stir in the butter and then let the syrup cool. Add in the vanilla and cinnamon and beat the frosting until it reaches a consistency you like. You may need to add more half and half.

Ok now that all of the recipe is out of the way time to assemble.

Take your almost cool muffin pan of cupcakes and put about 1 table spoon of rum syrup over each cupcake. Let it soak in for 15 -20 minutes or until the cupcakes are completely cool. Take a heaping amount of frosting and put it on top of the cupcake. Now if you are good at frosting go for it but I'm not, so what you see is what you get. Then top with a banana chip or if you are serving right away a slice of banana.

These went like hotcakes at P's office. So I think that means that they are good.



Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Inspiration

Do you ever read a blog and then what they say triggers a memory later. I think I spend too many hours perusing the web for new recipes and looking at as many blogs as I can. I think that being in front of a computer all day doesn't hurt either. All of the blogs I look at really inspiring to think people, ordinary people create these delicious recipes. I have folders full of print outs to try I am slowly making my way through them but I have a problem where if I make something that I like or P likes I make it again when I should be trying something new so in the name of trying something new I picked a few recipes from some blogs I like.

First Almond Breakfast Cake from Alpine Berry

The only thing I changed was I added more almond extract about 1 tsp. This cake is fantastic and her story about having the heavy cream was what triggered me to making it as I also had alot of heavy cream left over. I tend to get abitious and purchase perishable ingredients and then have to figure out how to use them up.


Second Key Lime Coconut Blondies by Culinary Concoctions by Peabody

I made these just as directed they taste more like coconut than key lime. At our local fruit market they had a 2 lb bag of key limes on sale for 88 cents so Im sure I will be trying to come up with something else to use them in. But let me tell you that trying to juice key limes was not easy. These were beautifully soft and tender and I love coconut so I also like the taste. Just not very key limey.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

My Project - Georgie Porgie Pie


Patrick has this pie that he really likes and he wants me to dissect it and make it for him. So look for my attempts at this pie in the future and if any one has a recipe for Georgie Porgie Pie please send it to me.

Sorry the picture quality is bad.

Honey Cake


I saw this in this Sunday's Chicago Tribune and had to make it. I made it that day, I'm just slow in posting.

Topping -
7 tbs of unsalted butter
1/2 cup honey
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Melt the butter and honey in a saucepan and bring to a boil and then simmer for 2 minutes. Add vanilla and almonds then remove from heat and set aside.

Cake
1 3/4 cups AP Flour
1 tbs baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick of butter
5 tbs of sugar
1/4 cup of honey
2 eggs
1 tsp of vanilla extract
1/2 cup of milk

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 inch springform pan and fit a circle of parchment paper on the bottom. Then grease and flour the pan.
Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cream butter in an electric mixer for 2 minutes. Add sugar and beat until fluffy, then add honey. Add eggs and vanilla. Add 1/2 the flour mixture and then the milk, then the rest of the flour.
Add to the pan and smooth it as much as possible. Take 1 tbs of flour and sprinkle it on the top of the cake and then use your hand to smooth out the cake. Pour the topping over the cake. Place the pan on a cookie sheet and bake for 35 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean. Cool on a rack until completely cool.

Mom's Pumpkin Cookies


These cookies bring back my childhood in fall. My mom would make them for every grade school Halloween party. They are soft and cake like and not overly sweet. I changed them so that they were alittle healthier but they are basically the same.

2 cups of AP Flour
2 cups of oats
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup of butter at room temperature
1 cup of brown sugar
1 cup of sugar
1 egg
2 tsp vanilla extract
2 16oz. cans of Pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 1/2 cups of raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Combine flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt. Cream butter and sugars. Add in egg and vanilla. Alternate additions of the dry ingredients and the pumpkin. Mix in the raisins. It will be a loose creamy batter. Drop them on a greased cookie sheet and cook for 20 - 25 minutes. They won't really brown but they will set up. Take them out and cool on a cooling rack. They are even better the next day.

Peach Streusel Coffee Cake


I saw this recipe online and I have an affinity for streusel toppings. So I just had to make it. I made a few changes from the original recipe. It was fantastic the hint of the almond extract really makes the cake. It was really easy to make as well.


For the streusel:
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
6 Tbs. cold unsalted butter,
cut into small pieces

For the cake:
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1 egg
4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup of heavy cream
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
2 firm, ripe peaches, 1 lb. total, peeled,
pitted and sliced 1 inch thick


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9-inch round springform pan. I used my trusty Pam with Flour.

For the streusel, in a bowl, stir together the flour, brown and granulated sugars and cinnamon. Add the butter and, using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut or rub in the butter until coarse crumbs form.

For the cake, in a bowl, stir together the flour, granulated sugar, baking powder and salt. In another bowl, using a wire whisk, beat the egg, melted butter, milk, vanilla and almond extract until creamy, about 1 minute. Add to the flour mixture and beat just until evenly moistened.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Arrange the peach slices in concentric circles from the pan sides to the center. Gently press the slices into the batter. Sprinkle evenly with the streusel.

Bake until the topping is golden brown and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean, 40 to 45 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for 20 minutes. Remove the sides of the springform pan. Serve the cake warm or at room temperature, cut into wedges or squares. Makes one 9-inch cake.



Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Collection Series,Muffins,by Beth Hensperger (Simon & Schuster, 2003).

Friday, August 24, 2007

Crepes

I love crepes. I always have but I found a new appreciation for them when in Paris this past March. Patrick and I went there for our 1 year anniversary, well there and London. Since I have already been to London, I already knew what to expect culinary wise or so I thought. There were alot of trendy restaurants and bars the neighborhood that we were in so I was pleasantly surprised.
Ok back to Crepes and Paris, we stayed in the fabulous montmartre area really close to the Sacre Coeur. At the bottom of all of the steps of the Sacre Coeur there are 2 crepe / sandwich stands. The one on the left hand side of the street had the best crepes I had ever had and the best we had in Paris. We weren't totally adventurous but we found what we liked and couldn't bear to break away it was so good. We went there almost everyday after a few days of being Paris. We ate the Jambon and Fromage crepes (Ham and Cheese) and various dessert crepes, our favorite being Nutella. Being in Paris was one of the best times of my life thus far so I like to relive the experience and make crepes at home. It brings back all of the memories of how great of a vacation it was. Ok on to the crepes. I use a basic crepe recipe that works for both savory and sweet crepes.

Crepes
1 cup of milk ( I used Skim because it was what we had)
1 egg
1/2 cup + 1 Tbs AP flour
1/2 Tbs melted butter
1/2 tsp salt

Put it all in a blender and blend until combined. Refrigerate for 1- 8 hours. I normally make it in the morning before work so it sits for longer than 8 hours so it starts to separate a little but it mixes right back together.

Take some butter and grease your preheated crepe pan and for my pan I pour about 1/4 a cup of batter in the pan on an angle and swirl the pan until it coats the pan. Let it start to turn golden for 1-2 minutes then flip it over. Now my first crepe always turns out bad or mis - shapen or I get the flip not quite right. No big deal. This recipe makes about 6 crepes in my pan so I always make a double batch and I normally have extra left over.

Once it is flipped over you can put your filling on one quadrant of the crepe. We went traditional with some ham and comte cheese and then for dessert just some nutella spread in the crepe. Fold the crepe over in half and then fold in the sides and you are ready to eat.


Yes that is a Paris headband and yes Patrick has the matching wristbands. He just had to have them.