Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Snickerdoodles

I think that snickerdoodles are my second favorite cookies. I love the cinnamon sugar on the outside and the soft and chewy inside. These are really simple to make and I don't know why I don't make them more often!! Next time I might make them a little bigger because mine turned out to be a little flat.

For the first batch that went onto the oven I just left them in balls but they didn't look very pretty so for the next batch I used the bottom of a cup to flatten them and they turned out better but a little thin. After I flattened them I coated them with more cinnamon sugar. You can never have too much cinnamon sugar on the cookies!


Snickerdoodles

Adapted from Betty Crocker

1 1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup shortening
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups AP flour
2 teaspoons cream of tartar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 salt
1/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix 1 1/4 cups sugar, the butter, shortening, eggs and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.

Shape dough into 1 1/4 inch balls (I used my trusty cookie scoop). Mix 1/4 cup sugar and the cinnamon. Roll the balls in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Flatten with the bottom of a cup if you want more uniform cookies. Roll in cinnamon-sugar again if you flatten them. Place 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake 6 minutes or until set. Remove from cookie sheet to wire rack.
Enjoy!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Goodie Bags


For my birthday my friends and I went out to dinner. I wasn't sure if everyone would come because of all the stupid snow that we've been having, but fortunately everyone that was planning on coming was able to make it.



I decided that I wanted to make some goodie bags because it's was my birthday and I could do whatever I wanted to do! I made buttery jam cookies and white chocolate macadamia nut cookies to put in the bags. I also put in some chocolate and then tied the bags with some ribbon.



I found the bags in the dollar spot at Target. The bags are super cute and you can't beat the price! I still have bags leftover so I might make some goodie bags to take to work or save them for next year.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies


These are one of my all time favorite cookies. I made these a couple of weeks ago to bring over to a friends house and they liked them so much that I decided to make some more for the goodie bags that I gave away at my birthday dinner. I'll probably post my goodie bags later this week. They turned out super cute!

These were really simple to put together. There was a recipe on the back of the package of nuts and I just used that recipe but changed it slightly. Instead of using just granulated sugar I used some brown sugar instead because I thought it would give the cookies a better flavor. I'm glad I did because these cookies are really good.


White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookies

1/2 cup butter, softened
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cup AP flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup white chocolate chips or chunks
1 cup macadamia nuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla and continue to mix well until blended.

Stir in flour, baking soda and salt and mix until just blended. Fold in white chocolate and macadamia nuts and mix until all ingredients are well incorporated.

Drop by teaspoonfuls onto a silpat lined baking sheet (I used a cookie scoop). Bake for 8-10 minutes or until golden brown.


Allow to cool and enjoy!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

TWD: Buttery Jam Cookies


This week's pick was made by Heather at Randomosity and the Girl. Go over and check out the recipe there. This is definitely a cookie that I will be making again. I love the favor of the jam in the cookie.

I was a little hesitant to make these after reading that people thought that these cookies were a little bland. I decided to add more jam to the dough and leave out the ginger. I used double the amount of jam that was called for and next time I may even use a little bit more. I love the color that the jam gives to the cookies. I used raspberry jam and the cookies were a light purple/gray in color.

I was worried that the cookies wouldn't have enough taste so I also sprinkled them with some torbinado sugar as well. I liked the crunch that it added to the cookies. I would definitely recommend this recipe with a few small adjustments.

Go check out what other bakers have done this week.

Friday, December 12, 2008

TWD: Linzer Sables and My First Award!

I'm a little late with these cookies but since TWD is pretty flexible this month it's not that big of a deal. These cookies are really good. Everyone that tried them agreed too! They are pretty simple to make and don't require too much time. I made and rolled my dough the night before and then cut them and put them together the next day. These were fun to make because I don't make cookies that often that require you to roll them out and use cookie cutters.

In the past week I have made this recipe twice. My boss loved them so much that she asked me to make a batch for her. My very first customer! I was very excited that she wanted me to make them for her. I might have gone a little heavy on the powdered sugar but she said that she loves cookies with powdered sugar plus they look so pretty.


I will definitely be making these cookies again. I like the fact that they have ground almonds in the dough. I used raspberry jam but I didn't remove the seeds like the recipe says. I didn't think that you could really notice the seeds anyways. I also made mine thinner than suggested partly because I didn't really read the directions after making the dough.

I made the sandwich cookies plus I used the cut out pieces to make mini sandwichs. The mini ones are so cute! I like the fact that they are one bite because sometimes you just don't want a big cookie.

If you'd like the recipe go over and visit Dennis at Living the Life.

I've received my very first award! It's so exciting! Thank you Melissa from Love At First Bite! I feel so honored to get this from her because she has such great recipes and pictures.


I'm going to pass award on to Cheryl over at Cooking, Dunkin Style. She has such a great blog and the best lasgana. Her blog is one of the first ones that I discovered and continued to follow.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

TWD: Grandma's All-Occasion Sugar Cookies


This weeks pick is by Ulrike from Kuchenlatein. If you'd like the recipe you can find it on her site. I'm a little tardy this week but I did have the intention of posting this yesterday! I've been sick and so busy with things that I just didn't have time to post this until now. I didn't make the Linzer Sables last week but I did make them this last weekend along with the sugar cookies. I will be posting them hopefully this weekend but that all depends on if I can find the time. This weekend is shaping up to be another busy one even though I should be resting to get over this stupid cold.

Anyways back to the sugar cookies. I found that the dough was pretty sticky and hard to roll out and cut so I only did a few like that. With the rest I did the slice method. Even after letting them rest in the fridge I thought that the dough was still too soft to cut so I stuck them in the freezer for about 30 minutes to make them easier to slice. I was going to do a cream cheese frosting but decided that chocolate and some sprinkles would be a better choice for the cookies. These cookies turned out pretty good, but of course the plain ones weren't as good as the ones with chocolate on them.


Hopefully I will be on time for next weeks Buttery Jam Cookies, but no promises since it happens to fall on my birthday!

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Banana Cream Pie

I decided to make this for Thanksgiving dinner to take over with me. I had made it a week before for friends that came over. They really liked it and I thought that everyone at Thanksgiving would like it as well and I was right! I found the recipe in Dorie's Baking From my Home to Yours, which is the book that we use for TWD.

I highly recommend this recipe. It's pretty easy to make it just takes some time. I made everything in one day and it took me a few hours. If you want you can always make the crust ahead of time or even use a store bought one to save some time. When I made the first one I used the double crust recipe and just froze the other half to use for later. This saved me time for when I made it again.

I only changed a few things with the recipe. I used 1/2 of a vanilla bean instead of vanilla extract and I left out the spices in the custard because I didn't want the vanilla bean flavor to get masked by other flavors. I love this custard and I can't wait for summer to be able to make a fruit tart with it. I've been wanting to make a fruit tart but didn't have a good custard recipe.

I made one and a half recipes of the custard because I used a 11 inch tart pan and I wanted to make sure that I had enough custard. But you could certainly use a 9 inch pie pan with one recipe of custard. The recipe below is with my changes but for the one recipe of custard.

I also added a layer of white chocolate to the crust because I thought it would help prevent the crust from getting soggy from the moisture in the bananas. Plus chocolate makes anything taste better!

Banana Cream Pie
Adapted from Baking From my Home to Yours

For the Custard
2 cups whole milk (I used 2%)
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed and passed through a sieve
1/3 cup corn starch sifted
Pinch of salt
1/2 of a vanilla bean
3 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits

1/2-3/4 of a cup of chopped white chocolate

2-3 ripe but firm bananas

1 pie crust baked and cooled

For the topping
1 cup cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sour cream

For the crust

This is the same crust that I used for my pecan pie so you can find the recipe here. To fully bake it all you need to do is preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line your pie crust with foil and fill it with pie weights or dried beans. Place it on a baking sheet and bake it for 25 minutes. Remove the foil and pie weights or beans and return the crust to the oven and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Allow to cool.


Melt the chopped white chocolate and spread it over the cooled crust. This step is optional but I think it makes the pie even better.


To make the custard
Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the seeds. Add the seeds and the pod to the milk in a small sauce pan. Bring the milk to a boil and turn off the heat and let it steep for a few minutes. Strain the milk before adding it to the egg mixture.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy-bottomed sauce pan, whisk the yolks together with the brown sugar, cornstarch and salt until well blended and thick. While whisking add about 1/4 of the hot milk, then while still whisking add the remainder of the milk in a steady stream. Put the pan over medium heat and whisking constantly, bring the mixture to a boil. Boil, still whisking, for 1 to 2 minutes before removing from the heat. The custard should have thickened at this point.

Let stand for a few minutes and then whisk in the bits of butter, stirring until they are fully incorporated and the custard is smooth and silky. Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the custard and refrigerate until cold. The custard will keep for up to 3 days so you can make this ahead of time if you'd like.

When you are ready to assemble the pie, peel the bananas and cut them on a shallow diagonal into 1/4-inch thick slices. Arrange the slices on the bottom of your pie crust. It's ok to stack them if you have extra slices.


Whisk the custard vigorously to loosen it and spread it over the sliced bananas. I like the spread it out so that the extra custard mounds in the middle.



For the topping

In a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, beat the cream until it just starts to thicken. Beat in the confectioners' sugar and vanilla and continue to beat until the cream holds firm peaks. Switch to a rubber spatula and gently fold in the sour cream.


Spread the whipped cream over the filling or if you want to get a little more fancy you can pipe it on.
This is the one that I made for my friends


Serve or refrigerate until needed. Enjoy!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Pigs in a Blanket


I love pigs in a blanket. They are so simple to make yet so good. I'll admit that they aren't that good for you but it's not like I eat them every day. I usually like to use the reduced fat crescent rolls but I saw that now they have one that comes in a sheet so I decided to try those. You could also use low fat hot dogs or sausages if you wanted to cut out even more fat. I've done that before and they still turn out good.


Pigs in a Blanket

1 roll recipe creations
1 package smoked sausages

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Roll out your crescent sheet and slice into 6 long strips. Wrap one sausage with one strip of dough and place on a slipat lined baking sheet. Repeat with remaining strips and sausages. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.


Enjoy!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

TWD: Thanksgiving Twofer Pie


I had some leftover crust from the banana cream pie (I will post the recipe for this later in the week) that I made for Thanksgiving so I decided to make two small pie shells and stick them in the fridge for later. I knew that I needed to make the twofer pie but when it came time to make it I decided that I just wanted pecan pie. So I decided just to use the pecan pie part of the recipe minus the cinnamon. I'm not sure if this counts or not but that's ok. The amount the recipe made was just enough for my two little pies.

Good for Almost Anything Pie Dough
Makes a 9-inch single crust

1 1/2 cups AP flour
2 tablespoons sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 sticks (10 tablespoons) very cold or frozen unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
2 1/2 tablespoons very cold or frozen vegetable shortening, cut into 2 pieces
About 1/4 cup ice water

Mix the flour, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Drop in the butter and shortening. Using a pastry cutter, incorporate the butter and shortening until the flour mixture resembles course crumbles. It's ok the have larger and smaller pieces. You can also do this with a food processor if you have one.

Gradually add about 3 tablespoons of water to the flour mixture. If the dough doesn't look moist enough add more water until the dough will stick together when pinched. Form the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic. You will need to refrigerate it for at least an hour before you can roll it out.

Once refrigerated roll out your dough to your desired thickness on a lightly floured surface. Place in your pie pan and refrigerate until ready to use.


Pecan Pie

1/2 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup pecan halves or pieces

Preheat oven the 450 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, with a whisk, beat all of the ingredients except the pecans together until smooth.

Sprinkle the chilled pie crust with the pecans. I used about 1/2 cup in each pie. Pour the filling mixture over the pecans. Use your finger to poke down any pecans that float to the top and aren't covered with the filling.


Bake for 10 minutes then reduce the heat to 300 degrees F and bake the pie for an additional 20 to 25 minutes or until the center is set. If your pie starts getting too brown then cover it with foil until it's finished baking.


Allow pie to cool and enjoy! Check out what other bakers have done this week.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hot Sweet Onion Dip


I saw this recipe over at Closet Cooking and knew I had to make it. I had a few people over last weekend and knew this would be perfect to make for that. It was really simple to put together and everyone loved it! I served the dip with some bread that I grill and then rubbed with a clove of garlic. There were only 4 of us and by the end of the night it was almost gone. It was that good. I doubled the recipe because I knew that one recipe wouldn't have been enough. I will be making this again really soon.


Hot Sweet Onion Dip
1 8 ounce package cream cheese, softened
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup parmigiano reggiano, grated
1 cup sweet onion, chopped
pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Mix everything together and place it in a baking dish.


Bake for 50-75 minutes or until the top is nicely browned.

Enjoy!

Thursday, November 20, 2008

7 Layer Dip

Remember the guacamole I made the other day? Well I really had a craving for 7 layer dip so that's what it was destined for. You can use whatever brands you like for this. You can make it slightly healthier if you use low-fat or non-fat items. You could use ground turkey instead of ground beef or you could leave the meat out all togehter.

It's simple to put together. I you need to do is layer it in a dish or in my case I used my mini triffle bowls. I found this better than making one whole one because if there's something that someone doesn't like you can leave it out and they can have their own individual dip. Plus the bowls are so cute so I love using them when I can.

There's not really a recipe with specific measurements. I just used what I had on hand. Sorry about the lack of pictures but the camera was dieing. You can layer the ingredients in whatever order you'd like, but the sour cream and cheese are on the top.


7 Layer Dip

1 can Refried beans (I used the fat free kind)
Salsa
Guacamole
Sliced olives
Sour cream (I used low fat)
Taco meat
Shredded cheese

I layer mine with the beans on the bottom, then a layer of the taco meat and then a layer of the salsa. Then on top of that went the guacamole followed by a layer sliced olives, the sour cream and then topped off with shredded cheese.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

No TWD here............

I had the good intentions of making the rice pudding this week but it just wasn't in the cards. I went to Tj's and they were all out of the arborio rice that the recipe calls for. Then I went to another store and it was $9 for a small container!! I'm sorry but I couldn't justify spending that much on rice. I thought that rice is supposed to be cheap??


Anyways go check out what other bakers have done with rice pudding this week. Hopefully I will be back next week with the Thanksgiving twofer pie.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Guacamole


Remember that lime I was talking about the other day? Well it was destined for this guacamole. I say was because when I sliced it open to juice it I discovered that it was bone dry! I couldn't even get one drop of juice out if it!!! Good thing I still had lemons from TJ's so I just used that instead.

I picked up a guacamole kit at TJ's when I was there. It was cheaper than getting the pre-made stuff so I decided to get it. I love the kit because it includes everything that you need to make really yummy guacamole (with the exception of the little lime incident). This was really easy to put together because all you need to do is chop everything and juice the lime (or lemon in my case).

Guacamole

2 Haas avocados
1 Roma tomato
2 cloves of garlic
1 shallot
1 jalapeno
1 lime
salt

Chop everything except the lime and mix together in a large bowl. I only added half the jalapeno because I don't like things too spicy. Make sure that you remove all the seeds and veins from the jalapeno if you don't want it too spicy. That is where most of the heat comes from. Juice the lime and add it to the guacamole. Season with salt to taste.

Chopped garlic and shallots


Chopped tomatoes and jalapeno

Chopped avacado


Enjoy!

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Orange Yogurt Muffins


I was craving something sweet but not too sweet so I decided that orange yogurt cake sounded really good. I've made this before in loaf form but I decided that I wanted muffins this time. I love the citrus flavor that you get from all the zest.

You can add whatever kind of zest you want to this. I added lemon and lime zest. I would have added orange zest too but I didn't have any on hand. I used lemon and orange juice but didn't juice my lime because that was destined for something else but the recipe didn't need the zest so I thought why waste perfectly good zest.


Orange Yogurt Muffins

3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 small container plain yogurt
1/2 cup orange juice
1 medium lemon, juice and zest
1 medium lime, zest
2 cups AP flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
turbinado sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a muffin pan with muffin cups or grease a 9X5 loaf pan.

Place the butter and sugar in your mixer and cream until light and fluffy.

Add eggs, vanilla, yogurt, orange juice, lemon juice, lemon zest and lime zest. Mix until mixed well, about 1 minute.


Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add to the mixer and mix well.


Pour the batter into your prepared loaf pan or if using a muffin pan scoop the batter into your cups. Fill only about 3/4 of the way full. I made 12 muffins and used 2 mini spring form pans for the leftover batter. This recipe would probably make about 16 muffins. Sprinkle the tops with torbinado sugar if you are using it.




The loaf will take 55 to 60 minutes, the muffins take about 20 minutes and the mini spring form pans take about 25-30 minutes. You will know when they are done when a tooth pick comes out clean. Cool for 10 to 15 minutes before removing from the pan.


Enjoy!