Tag Archives: baking

Inspiring sweets – January 2012

There are just too many mouth-watering ideas on Pinterest to not have a regular post to share them. I’m thinking maybe it’ll be a monthly thing? We’ll try it out! You can find my first two “Inspiring Sweets” posts here and here.

Angel Food Cupcakes with Blackberry Buttercream

Caramel Topped Shortbread Bites

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Brownies

Coconut Banana Cream Pie

PB Banana Bites

White Russian Cupcakes with Kahlua Buttercream

What looks the yummiest to you?

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Amazing holiday cookies

I hope everyone has been having a great holiday season! I know I’m kind of late in the game here, but I wanted to post the two cookie recipes I used as Christmas gifts because they were such a hit. And they aren’t “Christmas cookies” by any means – definitely suitable year-round!

I did a trial run of these the weekend before my surgery, and then spent the Friday before Christmas at my parents’ house making them. I may have overdone it by being on my feet all day – I was so sore that night – but the result was worth it! These babies have been getting rave reviews.

Coconut Lime Sugar Cookies

The only prep-work for these is to toast the coconut and zest the lime. To toast the coconut, just spread an even layer of coconut flakes on a plate and microwave for 20-30 seconds at a time, stirring in between, for about 2-3 minutes. DO NOT just put the coconut in the microwave for 2 minutes and walk away. It will burn. I literally stand there and watch it. It should come out a nice golden brown.

Next, zest a lime. I made sure to get every tiny little section of peel for maximum limey flavor. 🙂

Then, it’s your typical sugar cookie recipe. It yields a light, fluffy, delicious batter. I DARE you not to try the batter after the coconut and lime aromas start wafting through the air.

Then, roll the batter into tablespoon-sized balls, roll them in sugar, and bake for 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees. The edges should be golden and the tops will start to crack a little. Top with coconut flakes if desired.

My Dad literally ate about 10 of these over the span of about 30 minutes. The flavors are just perfect. Definitely a cookie I’ll be making again and again!

Get the full recipe here.

Brown Sugar Cookies with Maple Glaze

The combination of brown sugar, cinnamon, and Karo syrup make these cookies moist, chewy, and super flavorful. The first time I made these I followed the directions and used dark Karo syrup, and for the Christmas batch I used light Karo syrup. They were just as good, the color was just slightly lighter (pictures below are from the dark Karo syrup batch). So either will work fine.

Just a warning – this batter is VERY sticky. I rolled the cookies by hand and my hands were completely covered after rolling three cookies. I’m assuming it’s from the Karo syrup.

The recipe makes these cookies giant, but I made them a nice small size.

The maple glaze totally makes this cookie. It’s just powdered sugar, maple extract, a splash of milk, and Karo syrup. This is also super sticky. I recommend piping it through a bag. When I made the first small batch, I just drizzled it on with a spoon. That works too. 🙂

Get the full recipe here.

And since I just made small batches of these the first time around, I’ve got batter all ready to go in the freezer! It’s perfect since it’s just me and the boyfriend at home – I can make a small batch of 1/2 a dozen cookies or so and save the rest for later.

I also tried out Martha Stewart’s Foolproof Holiday Fudge recipe. It was really simple and came out great. Tasted like the real thing! I didn’t end up making fudge for gifts though since I feel like a lot of people do. I wanted to make something different. But if you’re looking for an easy fudge recipe this one’s great.

Did you do any baking this Christmas or receive any particularly yummy homemade gifts? 

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Kitchen/blogging hiatus

Sooo, I haven’t really posted since Thanksgiving. Maybe you thought I was one of those people who started a blog and then gave up on it shortly after starting it. But I swear, I want to keep blogging. I’ve missed it! And I’ve thought of writing every day.

But here’s the thing. Two weeks before Thanksgiving, I had a health scare. I’ve had knee pain for years and just ignored it, because it wasn’t that bad. But earlier this year, I started doing yoga. And I LOVED yoga. But my knee pain was a hindrance, so I finally went to the doctor. After a normal x-ray and six weeks of physical therapy with no improvement, I went to get an MRI.

They found a BIG tumor in my knee, right at the joint where my knee bends. And then we had to wait a week to see an orthopedic oncologist, not knowing anything else. We basically spent a week thinking I might have cancer. It was the slowest, weirdest, scariest week I think I’ve ever had.

But the specialist knew right away from looking at the MRI that it was benign. It was a rare type of tumor that starts in the joint lining. They don’t know what causes it. And mine, because it was so large, had probably been there for years. It had actually started eating away at my bone.

So two weeks ago today, I had surgery to remove the tumor and get a bone graft for the section that had been invaded. It’s been a slow recovery. I’ve literally left my apartment twice since the surgery. It is really hard to get around. I’m in a full leg immobilizing brace. I can hobble around on it a little, but leaving the apartment means involving the crutches which are cumbersome and exhausting to use.

Anyway, sorry for the long story. Basically, I really can’t be on my feet for more than 10 minutes or so at a time. So I can’t cook. I could have done a few fluffy blog posts but it’s kind of been a roller-coaster past few weeks and I just haven’t felt like writing something sub-par. It’s just one of those times where real life gets in the way. 🙂 But more importantly than missing a few weeks of blogging, I’m healthy, healing, and tumorless, and couldn’t be more grateful for that.

The weekend before my surgery, I tried out some recipes that I plan on baking and using as Christmas gifts. The boyfriend and I leave for Boston on Thursday to be with our families for Christmas, and I’m hoping my mom will be my helper in the kitchen so I can get these done. So get ready for posts on…

these…

these…

and these.

I’m guessing I won’t post while I’m back East. There is just too much to fit in for the few days we’re there. But I will definitely be back at it after the holidays. I just wanted to write something to say this isn’t an abandoned blog!

I hope everyone has a happy, healthy, relaxing holiday!

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Chocolate chip cookie pie

The boyfriend loves anything that involves chocolate chip cookie batter, so I thought I’d try out this chocolate chip cookie pie recipe as an alternative to standard cookies.

It was also my first time trying out this baby.

After the disaster that was my $6.99 hand mixer, this one worked great. It had a nice low speed that didn’t splatter batter all over my kitchen. It was $19.99 at Target and came in lots of fun colors. I had the hot pink one in my cart and then decided that if I ever wanted a sous chef out of the boyfriend I’d better get the red instead. 🙂

First step was to cream butter and sugar together.

Then add eggs and vanilla.

After mixing in the rest of the ingredients (we omitted the nuts from the recipe), transfer to a deep dish pie shell and bake at 350 degrees for 60-70 minutes.

Voila!

Mmmmm, look at that gooey chocolatey goodness. This was SO GOOD. The texture was just like a pizookie – much lighter and fluffier than a cookie dough. And this probably goes without saying, but this pie MUST be served warm with vanilla ice cream on top. It’s just the only way to do it right.

The texture of this recipe was spot on. Honestly, the boyfriend and I both agreed that it didn’t even need a pie crust! And I am a girl that loves anything with a crust. But I think this batter can stand on it’s own.

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Pumpkin oatmeal muffins with cinnamon walnut streusel

I know this recipe involves the exact same ingredients as my breakfast post, but I’ve been wanting to bake something with pumpkin and today just was the day to to do it. I followed Julie’s recipe for the muffins, except I used unsweetened almond milk instead of regular milk.

Just mix the dry ingredients with the wet ones…
 

…to make a lovely, orange, lumpy butter.

I decided I wanted to pretty my muffins up a little by adding a topping, so I went with a cinnamon walnut streusel. I cut up 2 Tbs of cold butter into little pieces, added in 2 Tbs of brown sugar  and 1/2 tsp of cinnamon, crumbled it all together with my fingers, and put it on top of the muffins.

Oh. My. Gosh…the smell that took over my apartment while these were baking was amazzzzing. And they tasted just as good! The pumpkin puree keeps them super moist, and the streusel reminded me of my mom’s homemade coffee cake! It was such a great addition to the muffins.

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Happy National Cupcake Day!

So I had something else planned to bake today, but when I woke up and learned that it was National Cupcake Day I just had to change my plans! Cupcakes aren’t too tricky to make, and I’m trying to make things that are new to me, so I promptly Googled “best cupcake recipes”. And when I saw that the top result was Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Cupcakes, accompanied by this picture…

…I knew what I was making!

As I’ve previously mentioned, my kitchen isn’t exactly outfitted with every essential kitchen tool. So I finally picked up an electric mixer at good old Tar-jay this morning. It was only $6.50!..(which may be the reason I’m debating returning it…more on that later.)

Anyway, this recipe is pretty easy. There is just an extra step. You have to make the cookie dough, freeze it for 2 hours so it doesn’t bake along with the cupcake, and then make the actual cupcakes. The recipe says you can also use pre-made dough for this, but I just made some from scratch.

When I initially showed the boyfriend the above picture of the final product, he commented that the ratio of cookie dough to cupcake looked a little too big – as in, he wanted less cookie dough than the picture portrayed. So instead of making dough balls from 1 Tbs of dough like the recipe called for, I made them a little smaller. I did it by hand but you could probably use a melon baller if you don’t like getting doughy hands. So into the freezer these went for a few hours (the recipe says at least 2).

I had plenty of leftover dough, so I bagged it up, flattened it out, and put it in the freezer for future use!

After the dough balls were sufficiently frozen, I made the cupcake batter. I used Pillsbury Moist Supreme Classic Yellow cake mix. Here’s the new mixer in action! (Side note – I used it on the slowest speed, and it was much faster than I thought it would be. I had to be careful not to splatter the batter! I’m wondering if this is because I got a cheapy? I’m still debating returning this one and spending the $20 on a name brand one. It just seems to me like there should be a slower speed.)

Then all you do is plop the frozen dough ball into the middle of the cupcake. The biggest thing is not to overbake them, or the cookie dough will just cook and it won’t be doughy. I took these out after 15 minutes (the recipe calls for 18-20, but again, my oven is on crack).

After letting the cupcakes cool, it was time to frost. Now I’m usually a stick-a-knife-in-the-frosting-jar-and-spread kinda girl, but I thought I’d turn it up a notch and actually try piping. So I picked up these icing tips, also from Tar-jay.

I set up my sweet little icing station for easy clean-up and got down to business.

I employed a trick I’ve seen before and used a Ziploc bag instead of a real piping bag. You just snip the end off of one of the corners and insert the icing tip inside the bag and through the hole. Then just spoon the frosting in, squeeze it all down to the corner, and pipe away! (In this picture I used a gallon sized bag, but for the second batch I switched to a quart sized bag. The smaller bag made it a little easier to squeeze the frosting down to the corner.)

And here’s my first attempt! I know, not the prettiest thing – I didn’t start far enough down on the side and the top is a little droopy.

They got a little better as I went along! (And yes, despite my attempts to keep my frosting area clean, the kitchen counter was still covered in frosting by the end of this project. Typical.)
 

After making some pretty ones, I got a little silly with my new tool.


In the end, these were pretty delicious. To be honest, I only wish I had made the dough balls the size they were supposed to be! They needed more cookie dough goodness! I do recommend this recipe though. It’s really easy, and is a fun twist on two classic dessert recipes. From the outside it’s just a regular cupcake – but there’s a nice doughy surprise when you bite into it!

Now that dessert is already made, time to get dinner going. Steak with roasted baby potatoes and asparagus for us tonight!

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Cute Halloween treats

Halloween is not really up there on my favorite holidays list. But if I was hosting a Halloween party or had kids, I would definitely get more into the spirit and try to whip up one of these cute goodies. These are all from Disney Family.com and FamilyFun.com. They’re pretty simple to make too. Let me know if you try one out!

Ghoulish Ghost Cakes

Mickey Mummy Cupcakes

Banana Ghosts

Brain Cupcakes

Funny Bones

Forked Eyeballs

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