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Preview: Something Sweet

Something Sweet



Because baking is clearly different from cooking.



Updated: 2015-09-16T12:46:11.289-07:00

 



BzzAgent Post: Glade Expressions

2012-09-06T09:44:26.412-07:00

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BzzAgent Post

2011-09-28T08:36:29.351-07:00

Hello :)

So, in thinking about what to write to show that I'm interested in the Star Wars blu-ray set, I have to admit something first.

I've never seen Star Wars.

Yes, I realize I am the last person on Earth who hasn't seen it. Because to quote an episode of 'How I Met Your Mother' - "The only people in the universe who have never seen Star Wars are the characters in Star Wars and that's 'cause they lived them, Ted. That's 'cause they lived the Star Wars." And while I may be on the short side, I've definitely never been an Ewok. ;)

I know the basics of the story, because, hey, who doesn't? But I just never got around to watching it. My fiance is a huge fan, and I think it bugs him a little bit that I haven't seen it. So, I'm excited to be part of this campaign, as it would make both my fiance and George Lucas very proud. ;)



SHF : Rustic Apple-Cranberry Tart

2009-12-27T16:36:20.280-08:00

It feels like it's been ages since I've actually been on time enough to do a Sugar High Friday event. Usually it can be summed up to bad timing - or, well, forgetfulness. *shrug*

This month's theme is the holidays is hosted by Cherrapeno, a blog I've just recently discovered and drooled over. ;)

After a disastrous attempt at a Nutella flourless cake on Wednesday night, I wanted something fruity. On a whim, I wound up at the Ocean Spray website, thinking, hey, at the very least, maybe I'll find a coupon for Craisins. I wound up finding this (alas, no coupons), and was thrilled to see that it could be easily put together on Thursday afternoon.

I would love to tell you lovely folks that I made my own crust. But I won't lie. Pie dough is still very intimidating, and I'll conquer that... when I get there. :) While I love the combination of the sweet apples and the tart cranberries, this is easily adjustable to any fruit combination you'd like.

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Ingredients:
1 9-inch pie crust (store-bought or homemade)
21 ounces apple pie filling
1 cup cranberries, fresh or frozen, chopped
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. sugar

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400F. Place pie crust in a 9-inch pie plate.

Combine the apples, cranberries, and cinnamon, mixing well. Spoon into pie crust. Fold eges of pastry over fruit, pleating so that crust lies relatively flat. Sprinkle with sugar.

Bake at 400F for 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 350F, and bake for 40-45 minutes, or until fruit is bubbly and crust is golden. Let cool a bit before serving. Makes about 8 servings.



Devil's Food Cupcakes (Christmas style)

2009-12-27T16:27:09.478-08:00

Yay! I survived! ;)

I hope everyone reading had a fantabulous holiday, despite any mad rushing around or last-minute baking.

We had a relatively quiet Christmas. My aunt and uncle came over. Food was delicious, loud conversations ensued. National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation was on all day on AMC. No matter how many times I see it, when the squirrel jumps out, I'm busting up with laughter.

The present-opening part held two good surprises for me. I've spoken in the past of wanting to get one of those vhs-to-dvd recorders, to preserve all the home movies and dance recitals and such; Dave got me one, which was a really, really big surprise. Secondly, between four gift cards, I've got about a hundred dollars worth to Barnes & Noble. :D

It's the end of the year, which means my annual 'end of the year' book. The Mists of Avalon, by Marion Zimmer Bradley, is my FAVORITE book. I've lost count how many times I've read it over the past ten years. In order to, well, make my own tradition, I decided to read it but once a year. I'm quite confident that I'll finish it before midnight on the 31st; currently on page 363, out of 876. Slightly worried, yes, but I'm still posting this before it's a week old - woohoo! ;)

Anyways, I first made these about a year and a half ago? I wanted something simple and chocolatey. And who doesn't love cupcakes? :)

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(Sorry, Mel, the duck didn't fully make this picture. But Stitch did!) ;)

Ingredients:
½ cup boiling water
6 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
¼ cup milk
½ tsp. vanilla extract

1 cup flour
½ + 1/8 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt

½ cup butter, softened
10 Tbsp. brown sugar
6 Tbsp. sugar
2 eggs

Directions:
In a bowl, whisk boiling water into cocoa until smooth. Add in milk and vanilla; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a small bowl, sift flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture in batches, alternating with cocoa mixture; beginning and ending with the flour. Fill liners about halfway full.

Bake at 350F for 18-20 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Chocolate Ganache:
½ cup heavy cream
8 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chunks
2 Tbsp. light corn syrup

Heat the cream until boiling, then pour over chocolate, stirring to melt, adding the corn syrup. Dip each cupcake into ganache upside down to get a good coating on it.



Cheddar Scones

2009-12-20T15:50:16.346-08:00

See, this is what happens when it's a snow day - Kristen actually posts in the blog. ;)

There's about 20 inches of the white stuff out there right now. I think snow days were much more fun as a kid. As an adult, you find yourself thinking about how much more work there'll be to do tomorrow. But as a kid, all that mattered was getting out there, building a snow slide, and staying out there for as long as your parents would let you.

Now I often refer to snow as that "dirty four-letter 's' word."

Sure, it's pretty and all - when you don't have to go out in it. We saw one plow come through - probably around 4am. This afternoon, an ambulance got stuck at the top of the street. A second one was called in, and had to back down the hill in order to get the woman to the hospital. Because one plow doing ONE trip up the street just doesn't cut it. I will get ranty if I continue on the subject of my city's obvious bias towards the downtown area and the section where the mayor lives. Hmph.

Alright, onto the scones! These are my very first ever homemade scones. My friend Steve isn't a huge fan of sweets, but is a big cheese fan. So, I offered. And it was... an experience. My dad played sous chef and cut more butter for me, and turned the water on when my hands were a big floury-buttery mess. I had visions of how Paula Deen must feel on a regular basis. ;)

Overall, for a first time, because of course I tried one, not bad. Next time? More cheese. And some cheese on the top of all of them. I found the basic recipe on AllRecipes, but altered it a bit as I went. So the recipe below is what I wound up doing.

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Ingredients:
2 cups self-rising flour
3 Tbsp. butter, cold, cut into small pieces
Pinch of salt
½ cup shredded cheese
1 cup milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 425F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Sift flour and salt. Rub butter into flour lightly, until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Stir in cheese. Make a well in the center, and pour in milk, reserving 1 tablespoon. Mix until just combined.

Knead lightly and briefly on a floured surface. Press to make a 1-inch thick round. Cut into wedges (or whatever shape happens to be easiest, in my case). Brush lightly with reserved milk. Sprinkle a bit of cheese onto the top.

Bake at 425F for 10-20 minutes, or until light brown. Let cool briefly on wire rack. Serve warm or at room-temperature.



Minty Mint Chip Brownies

2009-12-20T15:03:49.377-08:00

This past Tuesday was round one of the annual Christmas Baking Extravaganza. I've learned over the years that it's best to space it out a bit. Do the mailables first, then locals, then Christmas desserts. It's working, for the most part.

Three out of the five mailables were all things that I've done before. Which definitely made it a bit easier. The biggest problem? Four things needed an 8" pan. Of which I own two. That was fun. :P (Solved by doubling one recipe and then stowing the first dish in the fridge to cool faster)

This one is a slightly altered recipe from one previous this year. Amelia's my twin, and when faced with uncertainty on a baked good, I suggested something minty. Thus, minty brownies.

The batter both tastes and smells delicious. Earlier in the month, I found that Nestle put out some semi-sweet chocolate and mint chips - not swirled, though. But they're pretty enough in the dark chocolate batter. I had the tiniest smidgen of one and really enjoyed the flavor, and promises were made to my dad that more would be made, in order to keep him away from these. (That sentence seems awfully disjointed.)

The picture was a last minute one, right before it was put into the box. And that is my 'tiny' (6') tree in the background. :)

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Ingredients:
½ cup butter
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. peppermint extract
3/4 cup flour
1-1½ cups mint and chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease an 8-inch baking dish.

Melt butter and chocolate. Gradually beat into sugar. Add eggs and peppermint. Gradually add flour, beating until well combined. Stir in chips. Spread in prepared pan.

Bake at 325F for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Let cool on a wire rack before cutting into bars. Makes about 16.



Pumpkin Squares

2009-11-29T17:11:26.004-08:00

If I remember correctly, this was one of the first things I made here at home after I had started baking. Possibly January 2004? That was the last time I had come home from CA in the winter before moving back here. Both my parents loved it, as did my cousin and her husband. And now this is the second year in a row where it's been requested at Thanksgiving. *shrug* Works for me!

An oatmeal cookie-esque crust with a pumpkin custard on top, it's pretty easy. I always add in spices that aren't in the recipe - allspice, nutmeg - and never seem to measure. I can't cook because I feel more confident in my boxes and measurements, but I can improvise with cinnamon and the like. Another thing we'll just chalk up to a Kristen Quirk. :)

Oh, and because I can rationalize ANY food as being good for you - pumpkin has vitamins and oats are good for lowering cholesterol. There ya go, Leslie. ;)

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Ingredients:
Crust:
1 cup flour
½ cup quick-cooking oats
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup butter, softened

Filling:
15 oz. Libby's 100% Pure Pumpkin
12 oz. evaporated milk
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. ground ginger
¼ tsp. ground cloves

Topping:
½ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup quick-cooking oats
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F.

Crust:
Beat flour, oats, brown sugar and butter in a small mixer until crumbly. Press onto bottom on an ungreased 13x9-inch baking pan. Bake for 15 minutes.

Filling:
Beat pumpkin, evaporated milk, sugar, eggs, cinnamon, salt, ginger and cloves in a large mixer bowl. until smooth. Pour over crust. Bake for an additional 20 minutes.

Topping:
Combine brown sugar, oats and butter in small bowl; sprinkle over filling. Bake for an additional 15 to 25 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Cool completely in pan on wire rack. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Garnish with whipped cream if desired.



Chocolate Agave Cake

2009-11-29T16:59:34.091-08:00

I hope all of you had a great Thanksgiving. :) Mine was good. Except for the whole "working the next day at an ungodly hour" part. The joys of working in retail, right?

Mu aunt has recently been diagnosed with diabetes, so I sought out a lower-sugar dessert that everyone would enjoy. Having heard about agave nectar on a few different blogs - how it's lower on the glycemic index than even an apple - the quest began for a recipe using it. It was surprisingly harder than I had expected. Monday turned up results, though. Over at Baking Bites. (I really need to write a post-it to order myself one of the cookbooks)

The cake was SUPER easy to bring together, and I was happy to discover that agave nectar moves faster in the pouring process than honey does. The cake is very fudgey, but not as chocolatey as I had hoped. The frosting isn't very sugar-free, but I did use far less confectioners' sugar than the recipe called for. Everyone else loved it, though. Now that I think about it, I don't recall ever seeing it again after I went to bed so early. Hmm... :)

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Ingredients:
2¼ cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup cocoa powder
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
½ cup butter, room temperature
½ cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup agave nectar
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup sour cream
¼ cup milk

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round pans and line them with greased parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, cocoa powder, salt and baking soda.

In a large bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar until light. Beat in eggs, one at a time, followed by agave nectar and vanilla extract.

Stir in 1/3 of the flour mixture, followed by the sour cream. Add another 1/3 of the flour mixture, then the milk, before stirring in the remaining flour mixture. Mix only until just combined. Divide evenly into prepared pans.

Bake at 350F for 22-28 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out dry or with some moist crumbs attached. Do not overbake. Turn cakes out onto wire cooling racks, peel off the parchment paper, and let cool completely.

Agave Cream Cheese Frosting

Ingredients:
8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
½ cup butter, room temperature
3 tbsp honey
¼ cup milk
2-3 cups confectioners' sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and beat at high speed until smooth, gradually adding the confectioners' sugar until a thick and spreadable consistency is reached. More milk can be added to thin the icing, if necessary.



Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

2009-11-15T16:29:16.785-08:00

Alright, everyone. Try not to fall over - I'm actually updating. ;)

It feels as though I'm fighting an uphill battle in the fight against the lazy. I'm baking every weekend, but the lazy monster keeps coming up with paltry excuses from updating. Or even photographing. "It's rainy; no good light." "It's near-dark by the time I get home from work; no good light." Even worse, when the lazy monster gets in cahoots with the self-esteem gargoyle. "Oh, who's gonna care about yet another brownie recipe?"

But I'm doing good tonight. Baked yesterday, photographed a little over an hour ago, and here I am. (That and I told myself I couldn't read anymore of the book until I post this. Motivation, you come from the strangest places.)

So! I found this over at Recipe Girl and instantly fell in love. Pumpkin? In blissful union with snickerdoodles? Oh, my! You know it's gotta be something good if I'm making cookies before Christmas. ;)

And truly? These make me so ridiculously happy, it's not even funny. They're that perfect couple that, even though they're perfect, you aren't annoyed by them. You revel in their perfectness. You don't even feel that twinge of jealousy when they finish each other's sentences and get lovey-dovey.

(That last paragraph, upon re-reading, did make me raise my eyebrow in perplexedness. Have I gone off the deep end for good this time??) ;)

Anyways, divine. Everyone should make these. :)

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Ingredients:
1 cup butter, at room temperature
1½ cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup pure pumpkin puree
1 large egg
2 tsp. vanilla extract
3-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. cinnamon

½ cup granulated sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon
½ tsp. ginger
½ tsp. allspice

Directions:
Cream butter with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add sugar and pumpkin puree, and beat well. Mix in egg and vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and ground cinnamon. Beat flour mixture into liquid mixture a little at a time until incorporated.

Cover dough with plastic and chill for at least an hour, or until dough becomes slightly firm.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Mix sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and allspice in a small bowl.

Using a medium cookie scoop (1½ Tbsp.) or a large spoon, scoop out dough and roll into balls. Roll dough through the sugar/spice mix. Place 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Flatten slightly.

Bake at 350F for 10-14 minutes, or until slightly firm to the touch. Let cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes before moving them to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 3-5 dozen (depending on the size, of course)



Chocolate M&M Cookies

2009-11-03T16:52:24.798-08:00

Whew! It seems like it's been ages, hasn't it?

Well, first, vacation was WONDERFUL. Somehow squeezed in seeing everyone that I wanted to see, as well as nearly 12 hours of driving on the way to Oregon and back to the Bay Area. Not only was it great seeing friends again, but also the food that I can't get out here! LOL I really did pack a box and mailed it to myself, full of stuff that I can't readily get over here. (Why, yes, that did include vanilla from the Ferry Marketplace Building in SF lol)

In other awesome news, last week Southwest Airlines had a big 72-hour sale, with one-way flights as low as $25. Naturally I couldn't pass that up, so come January, as a little birthday present to myself, I'll be heading out there for a few days. And Amelia mentioned those wonderful words of "road trip" and "Disneyland." Quickest way to make this little girl smile. :)

Halloween was fun. My friend Leslie has been having a Halloween party with her daughter for quite some time, and I was able to go this year. Of course I volunteered baked goods, and cookies wound up being the choice. The regular chocolate chip stand-by and this one, which is based off a recipe I used a few years back. (So out of it tonight; I do apologize lol)

I did a half batch only because it was Halloween morning that I was making these and time was limited. The recipe's quite easy, mostly one bowl (I got lazy and just mixed the flour and stuff in the actual measuring cup *shrug*. The dough is a bit on the sticky side, and very yummy, so you might want to chew some gum while making this, just to resist the dough-eating. ;)

(image)

Ingredients:
1-1/8 cups flour
¼ cup + 1 Tbsp. cocoa
½ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
½ butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
¼ cup + 1 Tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
1 egg
6 oz. M&M's

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add egg. Sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture. Stir in M&M's. Place teaspoonful-sized dough at least 1-inch apart on prepared sheets.

Bake at 350F for 9-11 minutes. Let cool on sheets for two minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about 3 dozen.



Vacation!

2009-10-16T00:23:26.896-07:00

So, it's 3:20am. I've been awake for just over an hour now. Which is frightening.

But, oh, we're leaving for the airport in about an hour.

Am I dressed? Completely packed? Reasonable sane? That'd be a negative on all the fronts. ;)

It's back out to Cali and Oregon for a wedding and to visit friends and family. And food that we can't get out here. :) Super excited. But well aware that I'll probably wind up being awake for 24 hours, due to time zones and what not.

Obviously no new baking this weekend, but probably on the 24th. Maybe by then I'll be better about updating on a more regular basis lol

Take care, everyone! :)



Pumpkin Cranberry Muffins

2009-10-05T17:31:20.845-07:00

Well, look at that. Something that I made on Saturday is being posted about within two days. Wow!

It's been just over a week now since I gave in and bought a new wrist brace. The tendonitis has been flaring up again, and after three or four weeks of pain, yeah, something needed to be done. Of course it's the right wrist, since my left-handed-abilities are near to non-existant. (It was a great day when I was finally able to eat my cereal left handed without spilling milk.) Work doesn't really help it very much, since again, right-handed, and sometimes it involves lifting things that are a touch on the heavy side. Oh, and the computer! My dear, sweet computer, how you pain me so! Rather, the mouse and typing. Hmph. Sometimes I really think I was made from recycled parts.

So I'm gonna keep this one on the brief side in order to keep the swelling down. These muffins? Made of win. In my search for decent pumpkin muffins, again, Peabody saves the day. Lacking Raisinets, I popped in some Craisins to boost the health values a bit more. I like 'em and the general consensus has agreed with me. As it should. ;)

(image)

Ingredients:
1-2/3 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
½ cup tightly packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground nutmeg
1 tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup pumpkin
½ cup unsalted butter, melted
1 cup Craisins

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, brown sugar, sugar, spices, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.

In a medium bowl, stir together the eggs, pumpkin, and butter. Combine into dry ingredients, beating just until moistened. Stir in Craisins.

Fill muffin cups about 3/4's full.

Bake at 350F for 20-22 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack.



Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake

2009-09-24T14:08:17.466-07:00

Breakfast treat or dessert?

I figure my stomach doesn't mind what time it digests certain foods. Well, within reason, of course. It does care about spaghetti sauce an hour or so before bed. But baked goods? No biggie. For about a year during high school, all I would eat for breakfast were those horribly sweet brownies from Little Debbie. Minus the nuts, though.

Thankfully, I've improved since then. ;) (I wouldn't touch those brownies with a ten foot pole!)

The evening after I made this, my mom decided to pair it with some caramel-swirl ice cream and declared it a hit. My dad has it as his after-lunch treat. I slip a slice in before heading to work. Or an after-work snack. It's gone by this point, I should add.

Sometime last week, I came across a recipe that called for buttermilk. Which I never really have on hand. When I bought some, I couldn't find the recipe. Doh! Thankfully, Baking Bites exists. :)

The recipe comes together in a breeze, with a very light, vanilla-y batter. Instead of chocolate chips, you could always substitute dried fruits or nuts. I like it's versatility, and will definitely save this recipe for the future.

(image)

Ingredients:
1-1/3 cups flour
1½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
3/4 cup sugar
½ cup butter, softened
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
½ cup buttermilk
3/4 cup chocolate chips

For streusel topping:
3 Tbsp. flour
½ cup brown sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
3 Tbsp. butter, cold

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch round baking pan or springform pan.

Sift together flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

Beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, then add vanilla. Add half of the flour mixture, beating until just combined. Follow with buttermilk, then remaining flour mixture, beating only until the flour is just mixed in. Stir in chocolate chips. Spread in prepared pan.

Combine flour, brown sugar, and cinnmon. Add the cold butter, using your fingers until it resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle on top of batter.

Bake at 350F for 25-30 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Let cool completely in pan.



Nutella Ravioli

2009-09-12T17:17:33.036-07:00

I swear, I don't fall off the face of the earth every other week or so. Sometimes I wish I could for brief moments of time, but that's a whole 'nother blog altogether. ;)

Having an 'extra' day off this week due to the paid holiday of Labour Day, I decided to make something this past Wednesday. And for some very strange reason, cookies kept coming to mind. (Something REALLY must be wrong, huh? LOL) Speaking of work, this upcoming week, Tasha and I were 'volunteered' to help out in another store. On a good note, an extra hour of pay each day since the store's an hour away. On a bad note, it means I'm back on the salesfloor, dealing with customers. Oy.

Anyways, happier things. Nutella ravioli is definitely a happy. Another recipe by the fabulous Peabody. Of course, mine didn't come out nearly as pretty. Or round. Somewhere in my semi-lost brain, spacing just didn't happen. So when they came out of the oven, it was pretty much a cookie sheet of sugar cookie dough. Oops. Yay for spatulas, right?

Oh, and the flavor? So yummy. I want to say there were somewhere between 24 and 30 cookies? There are six left. My dad's been sneaking them, I think, in an attempt to make the brownies last longer. ;)

(image)

Ingredients:
18 oz. sugar cookie dough (store-bought or home-made)
½ cup Nutella

3 Tbsp. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 Tbsp. white chocolate chips

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F

Roll out cookie dough to about a ¼-inch thickness.

Using a cookie cutter or a glass dipped in flour, cut out rounds. Place about a ½ teaspoon of Nutella into the center of each round. Fold rounds over to create half moon shapes, gently sealing edges. Place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

Bake at 350F for 9-10 minutes. Remove to wire racks and cool completely.

Once cooled, melt chocolate chips in microwave for about 1 minute. Using a fork, drizzle over cookies. Repeat with the white chocolate chips.



Chai-Spiced Bars

2009-09-01T17:04:04.419-07:00

Motivation really isn't my friend lately. Not just here, but in general life, too. There is hope, though. There are only 30 more working days until vacation. ;)

This weekend was pretty yucky as far as weather goes. We kinda got sideswiped by the remains of Tropical Storm Danny, who was nice enough to give us about five inches of rain. Have I mentioned that the only time Dave and I have to do the grocery shopping is Saturday afternoon? So that included me running through the Target parking lot, attempting to avoid the big puddles and failing miserably. But as I neared the car, a giggle came out of me, that grew into full out laughter. Just for the feeling of running through the rain like I was a kid again. And that made me happy. Despite the wet socks. (My second biggest weather-related petpeeve is wet socks. Raindrops on the glasses takes first place.)

Oh, but wait! Before I continue, there's big, earth-shattering news!

Last Thursday, I (finally?) got the drivers' permit. Yes, you may all be thoroughly shocked now. ;)

I've always said that I'd get the license before I turned 30 or before I had kids. Well, I'm about a year and a half away from that number. So my friend Leslie, after much persuasion/harassment from our group of friends, went with me to the dmv. Of course, she later told me that if I didn't go willingly then, that next week, I'd be forcibly dragged there. :) I haven't done any driving yet, but it's a HUGE step for me.

Anyways, it was grey and gloomy on Saturday, yes. So I wanted something warming. Everyone knows my love affair with chai tea, and after some searching, I came across this site and, since I had everything it needed, went for it. It's not quite as chai-y as I'd like, but they're yummy. I think that if they were to be made again, I'd cut back on the cardamom; that seems to be the most prominent taste and that's just kinda... ehh. One day I'll find a baked good that has the chai taste I desire. ;)

(image)

Ingredients:
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 egg
2 cups flour
½ tsp. ginger
½ tsp. cinnamon
3/4 tsp. cloves
3/4 tsp. cardamom
¼ tsp. black pepper
Pinch of salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x13-inch baking pan.

Beat butter, brown sugar, and sugar until well combined. Add egg. Sift together flour and spices; gradually add to butter mixture. Spread in prepared pan.

Bake at 350F for 20-25 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Let cool on wire rack before cutting.



My Dad's Favorite Brownies

2009-08-22T06:46:42.640-07:00

Whew! It's been a while since posting! First, there was a week spent with a very disagreeable stomach. You know I'm sick when I don't want to bake. Last weekend I made these brownies, but between real life and tiredness (or a moody computer), getting onto here, with the photo resized (I'm glaring at you, Micrographx) and uploaded... ugh.

As I've mentioned on here before, my dad's currently going through his fourth round of chemo. In an attempt to keep his weight at a somewhat normal number, I've learned the best way to do this is through bake goods. These brownies in particular. There's nothing fancy about them, but they're his absolute favorite of all the things I've made. And made him try. (Let's not talk about the hummus lol) I'm thinking about brownies with pomegranate juice in them, in order to get some more antioxidants in him, but until then, it's these pretty much on a weekly basis. Which I don't mind at all. :)

(image)

Ingredients:
1 cup butter, melted
2 cups sugar
2 tsp. vanilla
4 eggs
3/4 cup cocoa
1 cup flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9x13-inch pan.

Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time. Add cocoa. Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. Gradually add to butter mixture. Spread onto prepared pan.

Bake at 350F for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Let cool completely on a wire rack before cutting.



Raspberry-Blueberry Oat Bars

2009-08-05T16:17:51.549-07:00

I was so proud of myself on Saturday. That's when I baked these and I even took the picture the very same day. Shocking, I know. Yet here it is, Wednesday, and I'm finally getting my butt into gear and posting. Oops. And I don't think there's even a valid excuse this time, outside of plain laziness.

Things have been going very well in the meat-free department. There are definitely some challenges at times, but overall, I'm feeling positive. And I'm feeling BETTER in general, too. Which is the biggest thing, as far as I'm concerned.

This is another recipe from the Vegetarian Times website, which I've had bookmarked for quite some time. Only did a few alterations - adding some nutmeg and allspice - and swapping out the plain jam for the Queen's Blend jam from Ikea. Raspberry and blueberry. It's the best. Get thee to an Ikea to buy some. (The Daim chocolates are yum, too) :)

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Ingredients:
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. nutmeg
½ tsp. allspice
½ tsp. baking soda
¼ tsp. salt
1 cup light brown sugar
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. almond extract
2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, divided
1 cup raspberry jam

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Coat 9-inch-square baking dish with cooking spray.

Sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.

Cream sugar and butter until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and extracts until smooth. Gradually add flour mixture to butter mixture; mix until combined. Stir in 1-3/4 cups oats.

Spread 2/3 of batter on bottom of prepared baking dish. Spread raspberry jam over the batter with back of spoon. Add remaining 1/4 cup oats to remaining batter. Crumble over top of raspberry jam.

Bake at 350F for 30 minutes, or until golden. Cool completely on wire rack before cutting into bars.



Vegan Brownies

2009-07-30T11:36:34.210-07:00

Remember when there used to be a sense of regularity in my posting? I think summer laziness and regular life-ness seems to have kicked in.

We've hit some semblence of summer here in southeastern MA. Which means temps in the high 70s/low 80s with a bajillion percent humidity. And that for nearly every day there's a chance of "isolated thunderstorms". Jim Cantore, you're my favorite Weather Channel meterologist, but, really, I could use some change.

Speaking of change, what started out towards the end of last month as a general aversion to meat has evolved into a more vegetarian diet. Which both family and most of my friends think I'm crazy for. LOL What a big difference between CA and MA, right?

I found this recipe over at Vegetarian Times' website. I've made various vegan cupcakes before, but had yet to work with tofu. The recipe came together very quickly, which is good as I started making it 30 minutes before leaving to go see HP6 (again lol).

The end result? A very moist, very chocolate brownie with a spongey texture. My "public's" reactions have been varied. I'm the only one that thinks they're really chocolatey. My mom and Dave thinks they're more cake-like than brownie like. My dad will eat pretty much any brownie, so yay for him getting some soy protein. :) Of the three coworkers who tried them... one says too much like dark chocolate (she doesn't like dark chocolate), next said they were good, and the third loved it, giving it an A+. I think he just likes the fact that they're lower in calories, but hey, I gave him half the batch after he declared them delicious. :)

It was really hard to get a decent picture of these. It was cloudy on Sunday when I took the pictures, so natural light was not my friend then. Scarily enough, this picture is the best of the ones that were taken. lol

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Ingredients:
2¼ cups natural cane sugar
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ cups unsweetened cocoa powder
1½ tsp. baking powder
1½ tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
1 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 cup soft tofu
3/4 cup chocolate soymilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Coat a 9x13-inch baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine sugar, flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl.

Combine applesauce, tofu, soymilk, and vanilla in food processor, and process until well blended. Add tofu mixture to dry ingredients, and mix well. Scrape batter into prepared pan.

Bake at 350F for 45 minutes, or until batter is set and top is dry. Cool in pan; cut into bars and serve.



Pizookie!

2009-07-22T17:18:42.278-07:00

Another post that's been in the making for, well, a few days. :)

Me and Amelia's Harry Potter/Rent vacation was quite awesome. Lots of fun and a whole lot of laughs. 'Rent' just blew me away, and we were able to get autographs after the show (including those of Anthony Rapp and Adam Pascal - woohoo!!). We also got to know Boston Commons extremely well. To put it lightly. ;) Seriously, it was so good to hang out with a friend that can finish your sentences. Huzzah! Now the next thing to look forward to is my trip to CA in October. Where we're hoping to see 'Rent' in San Francisco. :D

Onto the baked goods. I knew that when Amelia was out here that I wanted to make Pizookies. Pizookies are from BJ's Brewhouse & Restaurant, and they're a personal-size deep dish cookie, fresh from the oven and topped with vanilla ice cream. The cookies come in chocolate chip, macadamia, peanut butter, oatmeal raisin, and an oreo-style. They are DELICIOUS. Really, you should go get one. Or if you're on the east coast and the closest one is in Ohio, you should make this recipe. :)

For the cookie part, I just used the basic Toll House cookie recipe and halved it. The bake time varies a bit depending on how thick the dough is inside the ramekin. The two smaller ones that we made were fine at 25 minutes, but the larger, about-an-inch-thick should have stayed in probably for another 8-10 minutes. Either way, they were still good. Even the one reheated in the microwave the next day.

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Ingredients:
1-1/8 cups flour
½ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. salt
½ cup butter, softened
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
½ tsp. vanilla
1 egg
1 cup chocolate chips (white, semi-sweet, milk - makes no difference)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F.

Beat butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Add egg. Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; gradually add to butter mixture. Stir in chips.

Fill four ramekins with about half an inch of dough on the bottom. (If making a thicker cookie, do adjust the baking time.) Place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 375F for about 18 minutes. Remove from oven and place ramekins on potholders or napkins. Top each cookie with ice cream and ENJOY.



Baklava Bites

2009-07-12T15:58:22.451-07:00

Let's see... what have I done since the last post?

-Cleaned. Really, I did. Even found stuff that I completely forgot about.
-Read. 2½ books.
-Made brownies for my dad.

Umm... I'm drawing a blank. But I'm sure I must've done something fun and creative and productive somewhere along the way. :D

Hmm.

The first time I ever tried Baklava was in Epcot's Moroccan pavilion, back in 2004. I fell in love with it. The spices, the sticky-gooey-ness of the honey, everything. I've had some elsewhere since then, but surprisingly enough, Epcot's remains the best. (Then again, the places I had it weren't exactly um... let's just say there was a bit of a culture clash, to put it nicely)

I think I have to backpedal a bit more. The other night, I dreamed of puff pastry. I don't have much experience with it, yet I bought two sheets the next day at the store. Now it's Friday night and I'm wondering what to do with it.

In walks a favorite blog - Baking Bites... well, if a blog could walk... never mind. That's neither here nor there. After some deliberation, I went out and bought honey.

I followed the directions nearly to a T. I just minused the walnuts since my dad can't eat them. But the results were still delicious. And, oh, how yummy it made the house smell! I had a hard time putting them together as Nicole did, so I made a ravioli-type shape with them. Which leads me to all kinds of ideas of what I can do with puff pastry and ravioli shapes. :)

Oh, and my favorite part? The bite-sized-ness. It was quite easy to eat, well, five of them before dinner. ;)

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Ingredients:
16-oz puff pastry, room temperature
1 cup finely chopped walnuts
¼ cup sugar
¼ tsp. each ground cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and allspice
Pinch salt
¼ cup honey
2 Tbsp. butter, melted

Directions:
Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl stir together walnuts, sugar, spices and salt until well mixed. Add in melted butter and honey and stir well. Set aside.

Roll out the puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. If you are dealing with two sheets, aim to get two 8×10-inch rectangles about 1/8-inch thick, or slightly thicker. If you are dealing with just one sheet, simply roll it out into a large rectangle, or a 16×10-inch, if you can get it.

Use a sharp knife or a pizza cutter to cut pastry into approx 2×4-inch strips (cut pastry in half, or quarters when dealing with a large sheet, then divide into strips.). Place 1 tbsp filling on one end of each strip, then fold the pastry over to make a pocket. Press pastry together to seal. If necessary, dampen fingers with water before sealing edges. Place the bites on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake at 375F for about 20 minutes, until pastries are puffed and golden. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Pastries can be served fresh from the oven or at room temperature.



Corn Muffins

2009-07-08T12:42:33.089-07:00

Well, here we are, the eighth of July. My friend Amelia comes out here from CA in exactly a week from now. The weather is finally starting to act a bit more summery. (Hey, look, it's real sunshine! And, oh my goodness, blue skies!) I'm supposed to be cleaning, and, well, I'm sitting in front of the computer while reading a book. Again. I really have made some progress, though. It just doesn't look like it. :)

While wandering in Stop & Shop's "Natural Food" section, I came across Bob's Red Mill's yellow cornmeal. Obviously it was a sign of the baking gods that I should finally attempt to make corn muffins for the very first time.

I came into liking corn muffins and cornbread rather late in life. I believe it was at Dave's Aunty Vicky's where I first truly enjoyed cornbread. And since then, I've been a believer. ;)

The recipe I went with is from Gale Gand, found over at the Food Network website. It is super-duper simple, with everything done right in one bowl. Upon tasting, I did the celebratory "I made corn muffins for the first time and they didn't suck" dance. :) I think I'd like them to be a little bit sweeter, but other than that, I'm really pleased in how they came out.

Now, maybe I should work on a bit more cleaning. Maybe.

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Ingredients:
1 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup yellow cornmeal
¼ cup sugar
1½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. salt
2 eggs
¼ cup milk
8 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Line 8-12 muffin cups with paper liners.

In a medium bowl, sift the dry ingredients together. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs and milk together. Add 1/3 of the dry ingredients to the egg mixture, then 1/3 of the melted butter, and stir gently just until incorporated. Repeat with the remaining dry ingredients and melted butter, being careful not to over-mix; there may be a little flour not mixed in at the end. Use an ice-cream scoop or large spoon to fill the muffin cups half full.

Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes, or until risen, light golden brown, and firm to the touch. Let cool at least 15 minutes in the pan.



The Unphotographables: Strawberry Cream Bars

2009-07-02T06:55:09.686-07:00

See, I've been bad about posting again. So now I'm making myself do this now, because I can't have breakfast until I finally get my butt in gear and post about these. :)

Last Saturday, I really had no clue what to make. But I knew it would be fruity. It was the first really good day out of the entire month of June. (Yeah, June missed the memo that traditionally the weather should be sunny and a bit warmer. We had rain and grey for like 24 days of the month.) Saturday was beautiful. I even wore shorts and successfully blinded some people, I'm sure. I take after the English/Irish side of my family and am very fair-skinned. Besides, skin cancer is ugly.

Anyways, beautiful day. I always wear sunscreen on my face, else I get a bajillion freckles. I wore a tank top for the first time all year. This is one of those moments where if you had just a little inkling of what the afternoon had in store, it would've been fabulous. You can see where this is going, right? Dave and I went to play miniature golf. He won, as usual. But this time there was a consolation prize of sorts: the first sunburn of the year. Across the shoulds, back of the neck, top of the back. But good news - the legs have kept their traditional white color. :)

(Maybe I shouldn't post before breakfast. Obviously more chatty.)

I wanted something with minimal oven time and nothing was appealing. Somewhere in my head, a lightbulb flashed on. A bar, reminiscent of my Strawberry Kiwi Cream Tart. But only with strawberries and no vanilla pudding. Thus, this recipe was born.

I've found in the past that Martha Stewart's graham cracker crust doesn't always hold well together. So I upped the butter to 4 tablespoons, versus her 3. Yet this time, it was like sand. Thus, no picture because every time I try cut a nice slice out, it's a big mess.

But the taste? Vanilla cream cheese with strawberry slices? Oh, yum. I'm almost kinda glad they don't travel well. That means more for me. Just go to the fridge with a spoon and I'm a happy girl. Maybe I should have that for breakfast. :)

Ingredients:
(your favorite graham cracker crust for an 8-inch baking pan)

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
¼ cup sugar
2 tsp. vanilla

1 cup strawberry slices

Directions:
Once graham cracker crust of your choice is cooled and ready to be filled....

Beat cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla until smooth. Spread over cooled crust. Top with strawberry slices. Refrigerate for a few hours before serving.



Caramel Delight Brownies

2009-06-21T16:57:20.759-07:00

I've been such a bad blogger these days. I don't know what it is, some kind of funk of sorts, I guess. The weather here certainly isn't helping. It's officially summer today, and what do I see when I look out the window? Grey. Rain. Wind. I wonder if we've even hit 75 yet this year. This is definitely making me miss CA. But, hey, at least this time the recipe's being posted within 36 hours of it being made. That's something of an accomplishment, yes?

Earlier in the year, probably March or so, Leslie at work brought in a cookbook that the local vocational school made, creating recipes that used Girl Scout cookies. I came across a brownie recipe that used nuts, marshmallows, and the Caramel Delights. Of course I copied that one down (the cheesecake one, too!) :)

Fastforward to yesterday morning, where I again noticed the unopened box of cookies languishing in the cabinet. Which put me in mind of a brownie recipe I discovered over at Cookie Baker Lynn - simply called Seduction Brownies. Hmm... what girl isn't going to be interested in that, right? Go look at the pictures; they're gorgeous. A fabulous sounding brownie plus my favorite of the GS cookies? Oh, yes, a match made in sugar heaven. :)

I had one when it was still a bit warm from the oven. Ohhh.... mouthgasm. That's the best word I could come up with. At least once I had the power of speech again. The cookie isn't overwhelmingly strong, but every now and then, you'll get a bite with a bit of coconut or caramel. Mmmm... *blissful smile*

(image)

Ingredients:
½ cup butter
4 oz. unsweetened chocolate, chopped
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
3/4 cup flour
1 cup chopped Caramel Delights

Directions:
Preheat oven to 325F. Grease an 8-inch baking dish.

Melt butter and chocolate together in a medium saucepan over low heat. Remove from heat and beat into sugar. Add eggs and vanilla. Gradually add flour. Fold in cookie pieces. Spread into prepared pan.

Bake at 325F for 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick inserted near center comes out clean. Let cool completely on wire rack before cutting into bars. Makes between 16 and 24.



Chai Snickerdoodles

2009-06-11T17:52:04.566-07:00

I have been so horrendously lazy this week when it comes to posting. I made these on Saturday. And here we are, Thursday evening. It's just every time that I tried posting, something came up. Of course, sometimes that something was Jeopardy or talking to a friend, but you get what I mean.

So! These have been on the "to make" list for nearly two years. Yep, posted on Baking Bites just over two years ago. Oops. The fact that they're cookies is probably part of the reason why they've been on there so long, I'm sure. But they sounded really good on Saturday, a counterpart to the muffins that, well, failed miserably. (Honestly, it was like a chemistry experiment gone horribly wrong. I don't know what happened - hey, kinda like in chemistry!)

I didn't like these on the first day, but my dad loved 'em. I found them to be much better, softer and more flavorful, on day two. And they've been munched on at work this week, too. So, I'd say a success overall. :)

(image)

Ingredients:
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
½ tsp. ground cardamom
¼ tsp. ground allspice
½ cup butter, soft
1 large egg
3/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1-1/3 cups all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 tsp. cream of tartar
½ tsp. baking soda

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

In a large bowl, combine sugar and spices; remove half a cup of this mixture and place in a medium-sized, shallow dish or bowl.

Add butter to bowl and cream with sugar mixture until fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla extract.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, cream of tartar, and baking soda. Gradually add to sugar mixture and stir until fully incorporated.

Shape dough into 1 inch balls and roll in reserved sugar-spice mixture. Place on baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between balls to allow for spreading.

Bake at 350F for about 12 minutes, until edges are firm to the touch, but not quite browned. Cool for 3-5 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Makes about two dozen cookies.



Blueberry Cheesecake Bars

2009-06-01T16:59:28.754-07:00

I think sometimes it's very obvious what fruits are on sale at the grocery store. :) This week it was both blueberries and strawberries. We'll see what gets made next.

For some reason, I'm having a hard time coming up with what to write on here tonight. I was lazy last night and didn't post. And now it's Monday night, Jeopardy's on, and I'm just kinda eh on everything. Post-vacation downtime? I don't know. And I still owe somewhat of a post on that. Yikes.

Since I'm not coming up with anything remotely entertaining, I'll just talk about the recipe. Originally found at Culinary in the Desert, I altered it a bit for those unfortunate folk who do not like coconut. (Those weirdos lol) The addition of the flour in the crust was different, but I don't feel that it made too much difference compared to a regular graham cracker crust.

Reviews are mixed on this one. I really liked it, and even Dave and my dad ate it. Gina did not, Leslie has never had blueberries before and didn't want to try. Marcos took home the three that didn't get eaten. *shrug* I liked 'em quite well, so that counts the most, since I am the girl with the blog. ;)

(image)

Ingredients:
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
1/3 cup graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup flour
1/3 cup sugar

6 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup sugar
2 eggs
½ tsp. vanilla
1 cup blueberries

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350F. Grease a 9-inch baking pan.

Combine graham cracker crumbs, flour, and sugar; cut in butter using pastry blender. Press onto bottom of prepared pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until light golden brown.

Beat cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Add eggs, one at a time, then vanilla. Pour batter over hot crust. Scatter blueberries on top.

Bake at 350F for 18-22 minutes, or until center is nearly set. Let cool on wire rack before refrigerating. Makes about 16 bars.