Sunday, December 16, 2012

Coconut Cream Cookies


I am in love....

with a grocery store.

San Antonio was lucky enough to finally get a Trader Joe's!

Yay!

It just opened in October and I have already found a few favorites that I can not live without. On my first trip I found these roasted coconut chips and knew I had to have them. I also found a coconut cream, which is like regular coconut milk only thicker and richer. I thought it would add great moisture to baked goods so I grabbed one up.  For those of you that do not have a Trader Joe's, I feel for you. I have been going at least once a week and sometimes twice since it opened. I am addicted to some of their products already. I think I find something new every trip.


For these cookies I really wanted that creamy coconutty taste. The coconut cream made them super moist, and I can't wait to try it in a cake. I used chocolate chips and pecans in mine, which was great, but feel free to add whatever mix ins you'd like. I wouldn't skip the coconut though.

Coconut Cream Cookies

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups flour (sifted)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1 stick butter (softened)
1/2 cup coconut cream (Trader Joe's)
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs (room temperature)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp coconut extract
1 pkg roasted coconut chips (Trader Joe’s)
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup pecans

Directions
1. In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda.

2. In the bowl of a stand mixer, using the paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar, and coconut cream about 4 minutes until light and fluffy.

3. Then beat in eggs 1 at a time, and then beat in vanilla extract.

4. Reduce speed to low and add the flour mixture and beat until just combined, then stir in coconut chips, chocolate chips, and pecans. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for 1 hour.

5. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silpat.

6. Drop tablespoons of dough onto prepared baking sheet, allow about 2 inches for spreading. Bake 10 - 12 minutes until edges start to brown. Allow cookies to cool 10 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Store cookies at room temperature in sealed container or resealable plastic bag.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Happenings

Hey guys! Sorry I don't have something sweet this time, but soon I promise. Since Thanksgiving it has just been busy busy, but I am loving it!

For the first time in my life .EVER. I have finished my Christmas shopping early. In fact, I even put the tree up the weekend after Thanksgiving. I never do that.

No stress, I'm diggin' the Christmas music, I'm just totally in the spirit.

I got THE cutest tree skirt ever.

  

The other half and I ran our first half marathon a few weeks ago. We ran in the San Antonio Rock 'N' Roll Marathon. We had been training for about three months, and the farthest I had ran in training was a little over 9 miles. The half is 13.1 so I was nervous, I was afraid I wouldn't be able to do it. Turns out it was a lot easier that I thought, it was a great day, a great run, and I really enjoyed myself. I was able to run the whole way, wasn't the fastest time, I have short legs, but I never walked. I finished in 2 hours and 37 minutes. Never in my life did I think I would be running for that length of time.


Last weekend on Saturday we went to a tamale festival downtown. The city renovated an old brewery and turned it into condos and The Culinary Institute of America, where they had Top Chef when they were here. The area is located right next to the riverwalk and it's full of restaurants, bars,  and shops. It was great, there were restaurants from all over the city selling all different kinds of tamales. I even met a couple. Yes, these are tamales with sombreros and their names are Paco and Lola, only in San Antonio.


Then on Sunday we participated in a 5k called Color Me Rad. It was a fun run where they throw paint at you. It was so much fun. Like my "rad" tattoo?


Now I've got to get ready for another race this Saturday called the Gladiator Rock 'N' Run. It's a mud run and it scares me. I can't say I have ever been totally covered in mud and I'm not sure how I feel about that. I hope I survive, but I've got to do something if I'm going to eat all these sweets that I bake. :) Priorities baby!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Chocolate Spice Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Pudding Frosting


I wish we really got to feel the different seasons here in Texas, but unfortunately it just doesn't really happen. Oh sure we have had a "cold front" come through now and then, but it only drops into the 50's for one maybe two days and then jumps right back up to the 80's again. So we have to use other things to make us feel like it's fall. I have been waiting for it to get cold enough to go and enjoy my first pumpkin latte of the season, but it never did so I decided to go anyway. I sure am glad I did because the winter flavors are already out and I almost missed it!

I absolutely love fall baking. I love the flavors and the smells of all the spices, it makes a home feel so warm and comfy. That was what I was trying to recreate when I came up with these cupcakes. I have had spice cake before, but never a chocolate spice cake. I knew chocolate and cinnamon went wonderfully together so I knew it would be good. Bake a Holiday Spice Lindor Truffle in the middle of it and top it with Pumpkin Spice Pudding Frosting and you have a winner.

I am always on the hunt for a not-so-sweet frosting. The other half hates frosting, I know such a strong word for a sugary topping, but he just will not eat it. I have to agree with him on the sickening sweet buttercreams, I really can't stand those either, but I sure do love a swiss meringue buttercream. So I'm always trying new frosting recipes to prove him wrong and show him how great it can be. This one did the trick, I got two thumbs up from the non-frosting lover of the house, so you know it's good. I found it on The Hungry Housewife and knew I had to try it right away. For the cake I spiced up my go-to chocolate cake recipe.


Chocolate Spice Cupcakes with Pumpkin Spice Pudding Frosting 

Chocolate Spice Cake
Ingredients:
2 cups of flour
2 cups of sugar
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. of salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1/4 tsp. allspice
2 large eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup of cocoa
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup of boiling water

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees.

2. Line two cupcakes tins with liners.

3. Place all the dry ingredients (except for cocoa) into a large bowl and combine.

4. Then add the eggs, buttermilk, and vegetable oil to the dry ingredients.

5. Add the cocoa and the vanilla extract to the boiling water and add the mixture. (I usually let my mixture cool a bit before I add it to the mixture)

6. Mix everything together at medium speed until everything is combined.

7. Pour into prepared tins and bake for 20 to 25 minutes. (I used a measuring cup with a spout and poured my batter into the liners and mine baked perfectly at 23 minutes and I baked a few mini cupcakes and they baked for 17 minutes)

***Now I added a little something extra by baking a Lindor Holiday Spice Milk Chocolate Truffle in the middle of my cupcakes, but you can add any filling you would like or leave it out all together.***

8. Let cool in pan for about 10 minutes before removing from pan and cooling on baking rack.

Pumpkin Spice Pudding Frosting
Ingredients:
2 3.4 oz package Pumpkin Spice Instant Pudding Mix
3 tablespoons Meringue Powder
2 cups Cold Whole Milk
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
16 oz. Cool Whip, thawed

Directions:
1. In a medium bowl, with an electric mixer, mix together the pudding and meringue powder.

2. Add the milk and vanilla extract.

3. Beat for about 1 minute or until the mixture becomes thick.

4. Beat in the Cool Whip and beat until just combined.

5. Place in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to chill and set.

Friday, November 2, 2012

Fall Pantry Granola Bars


Every single year maybe about two or three times throughout the year I go through a "healthy phase." I try to be somewhat healthy year round but I always feel like the sweets that I bake and eat are packing on too many pounds and I need to drop the calorie count. I vow to bake a great "healthy" dessert that will taste delicious. I have to say these healthier versions taste good, but are definitely not comparable to their butter, sugar, and chocolate filled counterparts. If I had the two to choose from I would take the latter every time with a side of guilt. Well, I've been in that phase. After being on vacation and eating loads of deliciously bad things and then the 1/2 marathon coming up I felt like I should make an effort. I've always loved granola bars, but have never tried making my own. I thought it was about time and after searching through recipes I found one that I liked that looked like a good start.


Fall Pantry Granola Bars

Ingredients:
3 1/4 cups traditional rolled oats
1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 cup brown sugar splenda
1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1/4 apple sauce
1/4 honey
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/2 cup mixed nuts (I used nuts from a trail mix that had a lot of pumpkin seeds, had to pick out the raisins though)

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray an 8x8in baking pan with nonstick spray or line with parchment paper and set aside.

2.  In a large bowl whisk together the oats, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, salt, and nutmeg.

3.  In a medium bowl whisk together the brown sugar splenda, pumpkin, applesauce, honey, and vanilla extract until combined and smooth.

4.  Pour the mixture over the oats and use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to mix until all the oats are moistened, then stir in the chocolate chips and mixed nuts.

5.  Evenly press the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes or until golden brown. Make sure not to underbake. Remove from the oven and cool on wire rack. Cut bars and serve.

*Leftover bars can be individually wrapped in plastic wrap or stored in and airtight container and kept at room temperature.

Recipe reprinted from Brown Eyed Baker with a few small changes.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

California


The other half and I took a wonderful trip to California. We were able to see so many beautiful places. 
We flew into San Diego and spent a day and night there. We first stopped in La Jolla and enjoyed the beach, then we explored the city a while before checking out Coronado Island. We made it back to the beach just in time to take a nice stroll at sunset. We had a nice dinner in the Gaslamp Quarter before heading back to the hotel.
Now the other half and I are both training for a 1/2 marathon at the beginning of November so we had to try and be good and fit some running in even though we were on vacation. We heard from a local that a good place to run was Balboa Park so we parked the rental by the zoo and took off. So many museums and parks in that area. We were satisfied with a 5 mile run but we were able to see such beautiful
architecture, and gardens. There were tons of flower gardens, along with a beautiful Japanese reflection pond. What is lawn bowling by the way? Afterwards we had a great breakfast at a Hawaiian spot and hit the road heading north on the coast highway.
We made a quick stop in LA, it wasn't really for us. Hollywood is definitely not as glamorous as it is on tv. We then kept heading north stopping here and there along the way, the side of the highway to see the beautiful view, the seals, Pebble Beach, and we even stopped just outside of Malibu to climb this ginormous sand hill to watch the sunset.
The other half really enjoyed driving on the winding roads on the cliffs right beside the beach. Me on the other hand, I was white knuckled yelling at him to slow down as he shifted gears with a silly grin on his face. I'm sure he was picturing himself in one of those expensive car commercials with the guy driving fast, shifting, with the upbeat pop music in the background.
We enjoyed lunch in Monterrey before heading on up to San Francisco. Oh how I loved San Francisco. We got in that evening so we found a hotel downtown and walked to China Town for dinner, for a very interesting, authentic dinner. Then we walked back to the hotel stopping at a pub on the way. The next day we really went on an adventure. Before we figured out the public transportation system and bought a day pass we walked everywhere, and you know San Fran has a lot of hills. I was sore for the next two days. I swear, if I lived there I would have a great tight butt and nice legs. We saw Lombard St, Coit Tower, Pier 39, Fisherman's Wharf, and Ghirardelli Square. We checked out Union Square, enjoyed a beer or two in the Castro district, and thought we would want to see Height-Ashbury until we realized that modern hippies are not the same as Woodstock hippies. We ended our day at the Golden Gate Bridge on our way to Napa
Because we walked so much around SF I feel like we really saw the whole city. I don't feel like I missed anything, even if I did. I now believe that this is the way I'm going to get around for the next vaca. Walking and public transportation, it's the way to go. So what is it about the Golden Gate Bridge that is so fascinating? I mean, it's just a bridge. Did you know, more people die by suicide there than at any other site in the world? (Wiki) It's sad because it's such a beautiful place.
Another beautiful place was Napa. Not only is it gorgeous country, but did you know they have wine there? I know! Hard to believe they make wine out in the middle of nowhere. :) Loved Sterling Vineyards! Also went to Beringer, Robert Mondovi, and Artesa. A great, relaxing, beautiful day. 
Next stop, Yosemite! Wow, another enchanting place. I love California! The other half really enjoyed Yosemite more than I thought he would. I never thought of him as much of an outdoorsy type, but he was going around snapping photos like nobodies business. There were a lot of times we were just in awe of the view in front of us.
We drove around, and hiked around Yosemite and then continued through the Sierra Nevada's to head back to where we started. Going through the mountains was exciting. We even ran into snow and played in the snow a bit. 
After a long drive we finally ended up back in San Diego. From snow capped mountains to warm sandy beaches. This was one of the best road trips I have ever been on.
We hung out in Little Italy and had lunch, checked out the ballpark, and Point Loma. Then we went out to the Gaslamp District again that night for a little fun. Maybe a little too much fun. :)
This trip was amazing! It was ALL my favorite. We couldn't have planned it any better.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chocolate Chip Caramel Marshmallow Cookies


Cookies can make anything better. 

I was tailgating before one of our local college games, and I'm always in charge of dessert. I felt lazy that week and didn't want to actually make something so decided to go with a dessert that would let my laziness shine through, but would be impressive enough to take for a crowd. I decided on Pioneer Woman's campfire banana boats. I had seen it on a recent episode on the food network. It turned out that they were perfect for tailgating! Just throw them on the grill right after the burgers. Anyway, afterwards I had a lot of left over ingredients to throw in these cookies for mix ins.

So I had chocolate chips, caramel bits, and marshmallows, and I thought other than hoarding them on the couch and eating them right out of the bag, I had better throw them in some cookies so others could benefit. I used a cookie base from Picky Palate, but of course your favorite cookie base will work just fine. I loved the way the caramel and marshmallow melted into the cookies. Why are cookies so addictive? 

What is your favorite cookie? Send me the recipe and we'll decide on the best. (A good excuse for me to eat more cookies)

Chocolate Chip Caramel Marshmallow Cookies

Ingredients
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup almond flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup caramel bits
1 cup mini marshmallow

Directions
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a large baking sheet with a silpat liner or parchment paper.

2.  In a stand or electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and creamy. Add eggs then vanilla until well combined.

3.  In a large bowl add the flour, almond flour, baking soda and salt. Mix to combine then slowly add to wet ingredients until just combined. Add chocolate chips, caramel bits, and marshmallows until just combined.

4.  With a medium cookies scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes until edges start to turn golden brown. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack. Serve with a tall glass of milk.

Makes 3 dozen cookies

Reprinted from Picky Palate with a few little changes. 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Cherry Butter Cheesecake


To go to the gym, or not to go to the gym, that is the question. I will be honest I am feeling laaazzzy. It was a long day at work and I've sort of got a headache and I'm thinking staying home and cooking dinner sounds a lot more relaxing. On the other hand, I should be going and be more productive in my training. I wish you guys could send me motivation like you send email. Anywho, enough whining about exercise, I've got a cool cheesecake for you.

I love almost every type of cheesecake, except for plain, plain is just...well plain. One of the goodies that the other half brought back from his trip was this yummy cherry butter. I'm sure it could go great in cakes and frosting, but for me, cheesecake was the way to go. It's got the same texture and spices of apple butter just made with cherries instead. It's even great on toast!


If you're interested in buying some for yourself you can go visit the Pepper Palace's online store and order a jar. They have many other fruit butters that would be great to bake with.

Now lets talk cheesecake shall we, and more specifically a water bath. What is your take on this situation? I have always used a water bath because I thought I just had to, but it seems like the half that is in the water cooks slower than the part above the water. Does anyone else ever have this problem? A girlfriend of mine said she doesn't put the cheesecake in a water bath, but does put a pan of water in the oven underneath the cheesecake. What do you guys do? I've read so many different techniques and opinions, it looks like this girl has a lot more cheesecake experimenting to do.


Cherry Butter Cheesecake

Ingredients:
For Crust:
1 1/2 cups crushed graham crackers
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted

For Cheesecake:
4 (8oz) packages cream cheese
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 cups sugar
1 cup sour cream
5 eggs
1 1/2 cherry butter
3/4 butter, melted

Directions:
1.  In medium bowl, combine crushed graham crackers, sugar, and melted butter and mix until moistened.

2.  Press the crust into a 10in spring form pan. (I use the bottom of my measuring cup to flatten)

3.  Bake the crust at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes, and then let cool.

4.  In large bowl, mix cream cheese, cornstarch, and sugar until smooth. Add sour cream to the mixture, then beat in the eggs. Add the cherry butter and melted butter, and beat until smooth.

5.  Pour the mixture into the prepared crust and bake in a water bath for about 2 hours.


Recipe adapted from this one on Allrecipes.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Candied Jalapeno Brownies


Brownies are great but sometimes you just need a little something to kick up an original. The other half went to New Orleans a couple of weekends ago to celebrate his brother's 21st birthday and he brought me back some goodies to bake with. Isn't he sweeeet? :) One of the things he brought back I had never seen before, but I'm so glad he did. He brought me some candied jalapenos. They are sweet and spicy and just right paired with chocolate.

He picked them up at a place called Pepper Palace, and they have a website so you can go order a jar for yourself.
Not only are they good in the brownies but they also told him the juice is great in margaritas, which I can't wait to try! 

Personally I like my brownies fudgy so if you're a cakey brownie fan these might not be for you. Of course you could always use a different brownie base and add the candied jalapenos and chocolate chips. These brownies are fudgy and decadent with a little sweet heat that is extinguished perfectly with a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top.


Candied Jalapeno Brownies

Ingredients:
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 cup finely diced candied jalapenos
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Directions:
1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan.

2.  In medium bowl whisk together cocoa powder, flour, salt, and baking powder and set aside.

3.  In a large saucepan, melt butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and vanilla, then beat in flour mixture.

4.  Stir in candied jalapenos and chocolate chips then spread batter into prepared pan.

5.  Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Amaretto Sandwich Cookies


I have a baking unrelated story to share today, so if you don't care you can just skip on down to bottom of the post. :)

I was abruptly awoken this morning by the other half, flying into the bedroom flipping on all the lights and yelling that his car was stolen. He was right, the car was gone, and I hadn't even gotten to ride in it yet being that he had just purchased it on Friday and had gone out of town for the weekend. So I had to start my day with phone calls to credit cards and such because he had already put his gym bag in the trunk with his wallet in it, all of this before even having my first cup of coffee. Whoa. The officer ended up showing up to make the police report while we were left to figure out what to do with him being carless. Insurance takes care of a rental car so we were soon on our way to pick up a rental car until they either found his car or he bought another. Of course we found out after waiting for 15 minutes that he couldn't rent a car without a valid id, duh! what were we thinking? So off to the good ol' dps we went to get him his temporary id. After about a lovely hour long stay there we were back on our way to the friendly rental car place, that's when they called us. The SAPD had already found the car and they wanted us to meet them to pick it up, luckily for us it had a lojack system on it. We met them at a rundown apartment complex on a questionable side of town, where we found the car's steering column all broken off and believe it or not the sun shade up. You know, you’ve got to have a cool car to joy ride in, even the car thieves have to beat the Texas heat. Back in the trunk where his gym bag was everything was rifled through, all but the one pocket that contained his wallet. We couldn't believe it, everything was still there, cash and all! Whew, what a day.

Now to get back on topic....I love love love the smell of almond extract. I remember back when I was too young to drink, before I had a palate for wine or beer, I loved amaretto. That sweet nutty flavor was delicious and I put it in everything. Even though now it's a little too sweet for my taste to go and order an amaretto sour, I still love the smell and flavor, especially in baked goods. So this is an ode to one of my favorite flavors. What's your favorite flavor?


The cookie is soft and chewy, and with amaretto and almond extract in the batter it really shines though. The filling is a smooth buttercream spiked with amaretto, and for a little texture I added some of the almond flour (finely ground almonds), which I think gives it a little more of a nutty kick.

Amaretto Sandwich Cookies

Cookies
Ingredients
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tbsp amaretto
2 tsp almond extract

Directions
1.  In a large bowl sift together all-purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt, then whisk in almond flour.

2.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until fluffy.

3.  Beat in eggs one at a time until incorporated, and then add almond extract and amaretto. Add the flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Cover and chill for 1 hour.

4.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with silpat or parchment paper. Place a tablespoon of dough 2in apart.

5.  Bake until the cookies are golden around the edges, about 13 minutes. Let cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

Amaretto Buttercream
Ingredients
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp almond flour (which is finely ground almonds)
3 tbsp amaretto
2 tsp vanilla
Pinch salt

Directions
1.  In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a whisk attachment, cream butter until smooth.

2.  Add powdered sugar and almond flour a little at a time until combined.

3.  Then add salt, amaretto, and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Sopapilla Cheesecake

I've got an easy one for you.

(Didn't get the best photos, took it to work so photos are snapped
 from there, but it doesn't make it any less delicious.)

The first time I ever heard of sopapilla cheesecake was this last year at the other half's company Christmas party. They had a dessert contest where this dessert won. By the time I had made my way to the dessert table there was none of it left for me to try. (I know, you think I'd be there first one there, but I was in public, I couldn't just run over like a crazed five year old trying to get her sugar fix). Of course the one that won was one of those super easy desserts, not the complicated recipes that takes hours to make. All the better, right? It's got a light pastry crust, then the creamy cheesecake layer, then a crispier pastry top that is topped with cinnamon sugar. Yum, yummy!


Sopapilla Cheesecake

Ingredients:
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese
2 cans crescent dough roll sheet
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 egg
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar (mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tbsp cinnamon)

Directions:
1.  Using a 9 x 13 baking pan, unroll one package crescent roll dough and line the bottom of the pan.

2.  Mix together the cream cheese, sugar, egg, and extract and spread over the crescent roll dough.

3.  Unroll the other can of crescent roll dough and place on top of cream cheese mixture.

4.  Pour one stick of melted butter over the top and sprinkle with the cinnamon sugar mixture.

5.  Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.


It's a Pillsbury recipe. See the original recipe here!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Brown Sugar Blondies with Caramelized Frosting


FYI...sweet tea ice cream sounds like a great concept but when executed with tea bags...not such a great idea. I tried making green tea ice cream with tea bags before, also didn't turn out well...I should have known.

I will tell you what a GREAT idea is though...make these blondies! You will be thanking me, I promise.

They are sooo good! They are very brown buttery and brown sugary...mmmm...can't go wrong with that. I actually didn't make these first, my boss found the recipe on pinterest and brought them to work. We're thinking about having a pinterest party and making a bunch of dishes from pinterest and having a little luncheon. Our co-workers are so lucky to have us. ;) I loved these blondies so much I had to share them and I made a double batch for the other half to take to work with him. Share the wealth, is what I always say. :) It actually reminds me of something my grandmother would have made. 

So who's happy Breaking Bad is back on? Me, me! So excited for this season and I can't wait to see what kind of trouble they get into. 

Ok go make these...now.


Brown Sugar Blondies with Caramelized Frosting

Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
2 tablespoons milk
1 large egg, beaten
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions:
1.  Heat oven to 350. Spray the bottoms and side of an 8 x 8 baking pan.

2.  Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Removed from heat and stir in brown sugar, vanilla, maple, milk and egg (yes, just add them into the saucepan – I use a 3 quart sauce pan even when I double the recipe).

3.  Stir in remaining ingredients and spread in prepared pan.

4.  Bake about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on wire rack.

5.  While the brownies bake, wash out your pan to use for the frosting. When the brownies come out of the oven, mix the frosting.


Caramelized Frosting

Ingredients:
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/8 cup milk
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 cup pecans, large chopped for garnish (optional)

Directions:
1.  Sift powered sugar (I know . . . you’re wondering if you really need to. Sometimes you can get away without sifting, but in this recipe you really need to or your frosting will be lumpy – remember I warned you).

2.  In a sauce pan, melt butter over low heat and add the brown sugar. Bring to a boil over medium heat and continue to boil for 2 minutes stirring constantly. Add the milk and return to boil. Remove from heat and let cool until lukewarm.

3.  Gradually add sifted sugar and continue to mix in the sugar with a wire whisk until smooth (if it gets to thick add a little hot water). Immediately spread onto blondies – it thickens fast.

4.  Sprinkle with pecans if desired and pat them in gently so they stick.

*Note: to make a 9 x 13 pan double the recipe (bake 350 for 25 minutes) and double the frosting.

Recipe re-printed from Caramel Potatoes.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What I baked...

I've been lazy.

Have you ever used baking as an excuse to get out of something else? I swear if I do it one more time to get out of cleaning the bathroom things are going to start growing in there. Too bad scrubbing bubbles really doesn't just do the job for me.


I have been baking though, just not much else. That includes not taking pictures, just a few snapshots on instagram. But! I tried out a few great recipes that I would love to share.

Like this one...


This is a simple blueberry cobbler and it's topped with a homemade honey-peach ice cream. I found the recipes while flipping though a taste of the south magazine. I made it for a July forth BBQ and everyone really enjoyed it. I think you have to have some kind of berry pie or cobbler in the summer it just screams summertime. I have been loving my ice cream maker this summer, and have been experimenting with different flavors. This honey-peach ice cream was delicious and plan on making it again soon.


I also made some lemon cupcakes for our 4th of July luncheon at work. I used Martha Stewart's lemon meringue cupcakes recipe for the cake and Sweetapolita's recipe for swiss meringue buttercream. (my all time favorite frosting) For the frosting, I just dyed a third red and a third blue put them all in a piping bag and swirled away, love the effect it gave them. The cupcakes were very fresh and lemony.  

Now I'm off to go make some more ice cream. What's your favorite flavor?

Monday, June 25, 2012

The Ultimate Sticky Buns - Bon Appetit


Happy Monday everyone. I think that may be an oxymoron, unless you are retired, or just rich and don't have to work, or you get to bake for a living. Otherwise, going back to work sucks! So hopefully a little sweet treat will brighten everybody's day. Ah, I guess my day wasn't so bad, it's what you make of it I suppose.

I am lucky that my boss gets like every food magazine there is, and I benefit from this because when she is finished with them she brings them to work and leaves them on my desk. Not only is it great that I have a get away for the day and can sneak peeks at beautiful pictures and recipes during down time, but I also get great ideas and yummy recipes to try. When I saw the cover of Bon Appetit and caught my first glimpse of these heavenly sticky buns I knew I was going to have to make them. This recipe does take some time to make, it's not something that you can just throw together in a pinch. It's got a lot of inactive prep time, rising and chilling and rising again, but the good thing is you can do it a day ahead of time. I got rave reviews on these, so I would definitely make them again for a special morning. Now I'm not going to lie, this is a long list of directions. Roll with it.

The Ultimate Sticky Buns - Bon Appetit Style
Recipe Re-printed from Bon Appetit Magazine

Ingredients
Dough
2/3 cup whole milk
5 tablespoons sugar, divided
1 3/4 teaspoons active dry yeast (from one 1/4-ounce envelope)
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature, plus 1/2 tablespoon, melted

Topping
1 3/4 cups chopped pecans (about 8 ounces)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
3/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/3 cup honey
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon finely grated orange zest (optional)

Buns
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon kosher salt
All-purpose flour (for dusting)
1 large egg
Coarse sea salt (such as Maldon)

Preparation
Dough
1. Heat milk in a small saucepan over medium heat or in a microwave until an instant-read thermometer registers 110°–115°. Transfer milk to a 2-cup measuring cup; stir in 1 Tbsp. sugar. Sprinkle yeast over milk and whisk to blend. Let sit until yeast is foamy, about 5 minutes. Add eggs; whisk until smooth. Combine remaining 4 Tbsp. sugar, flour, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add milk mixture. With mixer running, add 1/2 cup room-temperature butter, 1 piece at a time, blending well between additions. Mix on medium speed for 1 minute. Knead on medium-high speed until dough is soft and silky, about 5 minutes.

2. If you don't have a stand mixer, fit your food processor with the standard chopping or dough blade. Combine remaining 4 Tbsp. sugar, flour, and salt in food processor. Pulse to blend. Add milk mixture; process until combined. With processor running, add 1/2 cup room-temperature butter, 1 piece at a time, blending well between additions. Process until dough is soft and silky, 2–3 minutes longer. Dough will be sticky but should not be greasy. If it is greasy, process for an additional 1–2 minutes.

3. Brush a medium bowl with some melted butter; place dough in bowl. Brush top of dough with remaining melted butter; cover with plastic wrap. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover with plastic; chill.

4. Let dough rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 1–1 1/2 hours (or 2–2 1/2 hours if dough has been refrigerated).

5. Chill dough for 2 hours.

Topping
1. Preheat oven to 350°. Spread out nuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast until fragrant and slightly darkened, 10–12 minutes. Let cool completely. Set 1 1/4 cups nuts aside for buns.

2. Melt butter in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat. Stir in brown sugar, cream, honey, salt, and orange zest, if using. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium, and simmer until glaze is golden brown and glossy, 3–4 minutes. Pour 1 cup of glaze into baking pan (8x8 baking pan), tilting to coat bottom and sides. Set aside remaining glaze. Sprinkle 1/2 cup toasted pecans over bottom of baking pan and let cool.

Buns
1. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and kosher salt in a medium bowl until light and fluffy, 2–3 minutes. Set filling aside.

2. Punch down dough; transfer to a floured work surface. Lightly dust top with flour. 

3. Roll out the dough into a 12x16" rectangle about 1/4" thick. Arrange the dough on the work surface so one long side faces you. Spread the cinnamon-sugar mixture over dough, leaving a 1" plain border on the side farthest from you.

4. Sprinkle 3/4 cup chopped pecans over the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

5. Beginning with the long edge closest to you, roll dough into a log, tightening as you roll, and patting in ends if they begin to taper. Pinch together the seam where the long side meets the roll to seal. Arrange the log seam side down on the work surface.

6. Using a large knife, cut the log crosswise into 9 equal pieces. Lightly flour the knife between slices if the dough is too sticky. Turn the buns cut side up and gently pat the top to flatten slightly. If needed, reshape to form round edges by cupping lightly floured hands around each bun and gently pushing and turning them in a circular motion.

7. Place the buns in prepared pan; space them evenly apart (buns should not touch each other).

8. Loosely cover pan with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel. Let buns rise in a warm, draft-free area until doubled in size, 45 minutes to 1 hour, or 1 1/2–2 hours if dough has been chilled overnight. DO AHEAD: Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill buns and remaining glaze separately. Store remaining pecans airtight at room temperature.

9. Arrange a rack in middle of oven; preheat to 350°. Whisk egg with 1/2 tsp. water in a small bowl. Brush tops of buns with egg wash. Bake, rotating pan halfway through and tenting with foil if browning too quickly, until buns are golden brown, filling is bubbling, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into center of buns registers 185°, about 50 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes. Spoon remaining glaze over. Sprinkle 1/2 cup pecans over. Let cool in pan on a wire rack.

10. Lightly sprinkle sea salt over. Serve buns warm or at room temperature.

Whew ok I'm tired.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Happy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread **from a mix**


I was feeling happy today and knew that I had to add some sprinkles to my life.  :)

The only bad thing about this is I am out of butter! As ashamed as I am to admit that, I have to improvise. I had a box mix sitting up in my pantry just waiting to be used. I wanted something sweet to put my sprinkles in that didn't need butter....some things are just meant to happen.

I have been fighting off a chest cold so I haven't been up for a marathon baking session, but still wanted to smell something heavenly wafting from my oven. Box mix is not my favorite but there is a time and place for everything. The funny thing is I can spend hours and hours in the kitchen working on a fabulous cake but the other half would still choose a box yellow cake with cool whip mixed with pineapple for frosting and banana slices sandwiched in the middle of two layers. It's what he grew up with as a boy, and his mom still makes it for gatherings to this day. When he takes a bite of that cake, not only is he enjoying the flavor but he is savoring the memories that he made over the years with his family while eating that cake. I realize that I can't compete with those beautiful memories he has, but I sure can make some new ones.

Enter happiness in a loaf pan......


Happy Chocolate Chip Banana Bread
From a Mix :)

Ingredients 
1 pkg cake mix (french vanilla is what I had on hand)
3 lrg ripe bananas, mashed
2 lrg eggs
1/3 cup oil
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup mixed chocolate chip (I used a mixture I had left over, white, milk, and dark chips)
2 capfuls rainbow nonpareils (or jimmies or your favorite sprinkle) 
*sprinkle tops with rainbow sanding sugar (optional) 

**would have added nuts but the other half got to them before I did. :)

Directions 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour two loaf pans. (13x9 would work fine also) 

2. Place bananas in bowl of stand mixer or large mixing bowl and mix on low to mash bananas. 

3. Add bananas, oil, and vanilla and mix until fluffy.

4. Add cake mix and mix on low for 30 seconds to moisten, and then raise speed to medium for about 1 minute until batter is light and fluffy.

5. Stir in chocolate chips, and rainbow sprinkles. Pour into prepared pans. Sprinkle with sanding sugar if using.

6. Bake in preheated oven 35 - 40 minutes until toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. Allow to cool on baking rack.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Green Tea White Chocolate Brownies


So it is already getting up in the 90's here in Texas. It's going to be insanely hot before we know it and it’s getting me in the mood for summertime. Swimming and BBQ’s and getting into the car that feels like you are going to internally combust, and forget it if you have leather seats, it’s like sitting on molten lava. Oh boy! It sucks for everyday life, but it’s great for going to the beach or floating the river with an adult beverage, which I need to make an effort to do more of.  There's just something about summertime though that even though it's super hot and you have to watch out for that back sweat stain on your favorite t-shirt, it's still great.

I may be kind of weird. I get excited about going to the grocery store. It's so easy to look at it as a chore, just something to add to your list of things to do that day and fight the crowd, but I just love to explore the aisles. I was doing just that at one of our local specialty grocery stores when I ran across this sweet matcha by rishi. Its matcha powder mixed with cane sugar. You can make green tea lattes with it, or cocktails, and of course you can bake with it. So I couldn’t resist picking up a bag. Look at that lovely green color it imparted into the brownies. You may notice there is no sugar in the recipe and that is because my matcha powder is sweetened. If you are using unsweetened matcha I would start by adding 1/4 cup sugar and maybe a 1/2 cup if you like your brownies really sweet. The white chocolate naturally adds sweetness. Feel free to play with the recipe.


Green Tea White Chocolate Brownies 

Ingredients: 
1 cup flour 
1/4 cup sweet matcha powder 
6 oz white chocolate 
6 tbsp unsalted butter 
2 eggs 
1/2 tsp vanilla 
1/4 tsp almond extract 
1/2 cup slivered almonds, toasted 
1/2 cup white chocolate chips 

Directions: 
1. Preheat oven at 350. Grease and flour an 8x8 baking pan. (I used Pam for baking and dusted with a little extra flour) 

2. In a large microwave safe bowl, combine the butter and white chocolate and heat at thirty second intervals until melted and smooth. Set aside to cool. (about 10 minutes) 

3. Stir in eggs and matcha powder until combined, then add flour, vanilla, and almond extract just until incorporated. Lastly stir in almonds and white chocolate chips. 

4. Pour into prepared pan and spread into even layer. Bake about 20 - 25 minutes or until lightly browned. 

5. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut and enjoy.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Where have I been? And cookies!


Well it looks like I've totally skipped over the month of March! What can I say...I was busy.

A lot of things contributed to my little hiatus… 

I turned the big 3-0 (ehhhh) But I did have a great time celebrating it in Vegas! A few great friends and an overindulgent weekend in Vegas, what could be better? 

Only marrying the man of my dreams! We had a small little wedding in Vegas that was beautiful and just perfect…and no…Elvis was not in attendance...he didn’t RSVP. (Pictures coming soon) 

So to be honest it's taken me quite a bit of effort to get back into the swing of things after all the goings on last month. Plus the husband (I love saying that) and I have been keeping ourselves pretty busy. Been going to a lot of sporting events, baseball, hockey, and golf. (oh my) Been taking up running… which I have always thought, why would anyone want to run that far…for fun?!? Running is not fun! Well the hubby got me out there one morning to keep him company while he trained for an upcoming race and before I knew it we had ran 7 1/2 miles. I thought holy crap! I can run that far? Now I’ve got to see how much farther I can go. So…that’s how it started. We’ll see if I can keep it up. If so I’d love to run in the 1/2 marathon this year. 

Anyway, I thought it was about time to get back into it and just jump in with something easy. My coworkers have been wanting cookies, so I decided to play with a recipe that they loved and see what happened. I just used the items that I had on hand in my pantry and they turned out great. This cookie recipe is a great base for what ever mix ins you'd like to add. If you don't want Oreo's add something else.


Oreo and Cookies and Cream Chunk Cookies 

Ingredients 
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened 
1 cup granulated sugar 
1 cup packed light brown sugar 
2 large eggs 
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract 
3 cups all purpose flour 
20 finely ground Oreo Cookies 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
10 - 15 crushed Oreo Cookies (coarsely chopped for an added crunch) 
1 (8 oz) bag Hershey’s cookies and creams drops, chopped 
1 cup chopped pecans 

Directions 
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. and line a large baking sheet with a silpat liner or parchment paper. 

2. In a stand or electric mixer, cream the butter and sugars until light and creamy. Add eggs then vanilla until well combined.

3. In a large bowl add the flour, ground Oreo Cookies, baking soda and salt. Mix to combine then slowly add to wet ingredients until just combined. Add coarsely chopped Oreo cookies, pecans, and cookies and cream chunk until just combined. 

4. With a medium cookies scoop, scoop dough onto prepared baking sheet about 1 inch apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes until edges start to turn golden brown. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

Makes 3 dozen cookies 

Slightly adapted from Picky Palate’s - Biscoff Crunch White Chocolate Chip Cookies. Jenny is a-mazing.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Mini Biscoff White Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes


Hey, hey! I know I'm a little late, but I hope everyone had a great super bowl and weekend and all that good stuff. I have great news to share. The other half that I refer to often, my boyfriend of almost 6 years, just popped the question last week. So yeah I'm good, being newly engaged and having a pretty ring to look down at would make anybody's day better. :) I really can't stop looking at it. (He did good!) I am so excited and can't wait to start trying on wedding dresses. Any tips you girls have, send them my way! The stress of planning and "buying" is starting to creep up on me a little. Usually I bake to relieve stress which I guess I need to do more, but I've got to watch the figure too so I can get a pretty skinny dress. You know it's hard to bake and not eat it yourself.

That being said....

Mmmmm...Biscoff. If you haven't tried this yet it is sooo yummy. Biscoff is a spread that is made out of cookies, it's about the same consistency as peanut butter. I just want to put it on everything. I actually had it on a piece of toast for my breakfast this morning. See, you can have cookies for breakfast! I made these little treats for super bowl so everyone could just grab one as they're walking by and they were a big hit! The crust, which is made out of Biscoff cookies, is sweet and buttery and the cheesecake is nice and creamy with white chocolate chips studded throughout.



Mini Biscoff White Chocolate Chip Cheesecakes 

Makes 18

For the crust:
Ingredients: 
1 1/2 Biscoff cookie crumbs
4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
2 tbsp sugar

Directions:
Preheat the oven to 325F. Line cupcake pans with paper liners.

In a bowl of a food processor combine cookies and sugar and pulse into fine crumbs.

Then pour melted butter and pulse until all the ingredients are moistened

Press cookie mixture into the bottom of cupcake liners. (I used a small glass ramekin to pat crumbs down, but you can use anything you can find that will fit)

Bake until the crust is set, 6 minutes. Then set aside to cool while working on the cheesecake mixture.

For the cheesecake:
Ingredients: 
2 (8oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/2 cup Biscoff spread
White chocolate chips (about 1/2 cup) 
Pinch of salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 275° F.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment, beat cream cheese on medium-high speed until smooth.

Gradually add the sugar, and beat until combined.

Beat in the vanilla.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, beating to combine and scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Add in Biscoff spread and salt, beat to combine.

Then place a few white chocolate chips into the prepared cups then cover with a spoonful of cheesecake mixture, then add a few more white chocolate chips and then fill with cheesecake mixture. (Now I did it like this so I would get the same amount of white chocolate chips it every cheesecake, but you can surely just mix them into your cheesecake batter if you don’t want to fuss with it.)

Bake about 22 to 26 minutes.

Transfer the muffins tins to a wire rack to cool completely. Refrigerate (in the muffin tins) at least 4 hours.

----------------------------------

Just in case you guys would like to see what has been distracting me.....


Just perfect :)

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Banana Nut Chocolate Chip Cookies


Hey guys, hope you all had a good weekend. I did, I live for the weekends. I did a little shopping in preparation for my trip to New Mexico this week. I grew up there and haven’t been back in years. I’m going to help out my dad and visit family and friends. I’m actually really excited! Isn't it fun picking up those little travel size items? It seems like I always find something new that I have been wanting to try, so it’s always a score when I find the smaller version. It’s a good way to decide if you want to buy the actual product.

So the other half is giving me a hard time because I didn't go to the gym with him. I baked these yummy cookies instead. Hey they're healthy, and low cal. That counts for something right? These are nice and soft and moist and totally addictive. They are a healthier version but if you eat like ten at a time it's not going to make a difference. That said, they are scrumdiddliumtious.


Banana Chocolate Chip Cookies 

Makes about 35 cookies 

Ingredients: 
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour 
1 cup all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar 
1/2 cup splenda
1/4 cup brown sugar splenda
2 large eggs
1/2 tsp maple extract
1/2 cup mashed banana (1 medium)
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli 60%baking chips) 
1/2 cup chopped nuts (You can use any kind, I used mixed nuts) 

Directions: 
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking sheet.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by maple extract and mashed banana. 

4. Stir in flour mixture, then mix in the chocolate chips and toasted nuts until well-distributed in the batter

5. Shape dough into 1 to 1 1/2 inch balls and place on baking sheet, leaving about 3 inches between cookies to allow for spread. (I used my cookie dough scoop)

6. Bake for 11-14 minutes, until cookies are a light golden brown.

7. Allow to cool on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

107 Calories – 5g Fat – 5g Sugar 


Recipe adapted from Baking Bites.

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