Friday, December 28, 2007

My Favorite Cookies!!

Ever since I can remember these cookies have been apart of my life. They are my all time favorite cookie (and will always be) that my grandmother used to bake for the holidays. One weekend when Heidi and I were young she taught us how to make them. It has been some time now since my grandmother passed away but her "sugar cookie" recipe lives on. The reason why I put sugar cookie in quotes is because they aren't really your traditional sugar cookie...that is the name Heidi and I call them. They are an almond crescent cookie that is covered in a sugar/vanilla sugar coating.

I just finished making a batch of them and decided to post about it...they usually don't last long enough to take a picture. This batch is being packed up and "shipped" down to Delaware for Mike's grandparents...via my in-laws who are driving down tomorrow. They love them as much as I do and I think they would be VERY upset if they didn't get any this year. One year this was all Mike's grandfather ate while he was recovering from surgery...they are just that good.



One thing that is difficult about them is that some of the ingredients can be hard to find. You need a cup of finely ground almonds and 2 packets of vanilla sugar. Usually I can find the vanilla sugar at the supermarket but not this year. Luckily there is a German deli near my house that actually carries the brand. Also this year I had to grind my own almonds using a cheese grater with the fine grating attachment. The food processor does not produce a fine "flour" which is why I found that the cheese grater works better.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Chocolate covered peanut butter crisp balls

1 1/2 cups Rice Krispies
1 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, at room temperature
12 ounces white chocolate
Colored sugar for sprinkling (optional).
1. In a medium bowl, combine Rice Krispies, peanut butter, confectioners’ sugar and butter or margarine. Mix until very well combined. Firmly compress into balls 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Place on a baking sheet, cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about four hours or overnight.
2. Line a baking sheet with waxed paper and set aside. In a double boiler over medium-low heat, melt white chocolate until completely smooth. Remove from heat and pour chocolate into a wide, shallow bowl. Working quickly in small batches, roll chilled balls in chocolate, turning gently with a fork. Transfer to waxed paper. If desired, sprinkle tops of cookies with colored sugar.
3. Place baking sheet in refrigerator long enough for chocolate to become firm, 30 minutes to 1 hour, then transfer to an airtight container. Store at room temperature for up to three days, or refrigerated for up to three weeks.
Yield: 3 dozen cookies.

These are out of this world..if your a fan of chocolate and peanut butter. I know the recipe calls for white chocolate but I used milk instead. I also only had creamy peanut butter so they didnt have nuts in them. Everyone in my family loved these. They were a hugh hit on Christmas!

Apple Pie

Well, this is probably the last apple pie I will make until next season. It was very tasty and my dad said it's almost as good as the way my mom made them. Its a very simple recipe, I make the pie crust from scratch using :

4 heaping tablespoons of crisco
2 cups flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup milk

This crust is very tricky to make. You have to get a knack for it. the way I do it is mix the crisco and flour ( crumble it all together ) then when its nice and mixed, add the salt and the milk. Its going to get VERY sticky, you might need to add more flour. Add a little at a time until it doesnt stick to your hands anymore. This makes enough for the bottom and top of the pie crust.

Then cut up the apples of your choice...I prefer Mac's or Cortlandts ( they get very soft but keep their shape ) add sugar and cinnaman. Bake for about an hour at 350 testing to make sure the apples are soft.

This was my grandmothers recipe that my mom made and taught to me. Im very glad I learned it so well so I can teach it to my kids. My mother would be proud.



Sunday, December 23, 2007

Part 2 of my Daring Bakers December Challenge

Thank you to our founders of the Daring Bakers Ivonne and Lisa for picking this month's recipe. After reading my post and you are interested in making this dessert please visit Ivonne's blog for the complete recipe.

When I found out that this month's challenge was going to be making a Yule Log I was excited. It is one of those things that you always want to make but never really get around to it because there are already so many desserts at the Christmas table. Well who cares really...you can never have to many desserts!

I started to make the Meringue mushrooms on Saturday so I am not doing everything in one day. This is another thing that I have always wanted to make and just never really had the reason to do it. I felt that this was an easy recipe to make and follow...I actually had fun making these and feel with a little practise I can make really great looking mushrooms. Some of my stems fell over and I don't know if I made them thick enough. The one good thing about that is nature doesn't make every one exactly the same and neither did I. (see my post Part 1 of my Daring Bakers December Challenge for pictures of the finished mushrooms)

On Sunday I made the cake and buttercream which also went really well and it helped that I had my in-laws over to watch Jacob. I was worried about the buttercream part with all the horror stories I was reading on the DB website. We were allowed to make the cake any flavor we wanted too and my husband suggested Chocolate which who can say no to that!! I kept the buttercream flavor as coffee because I just felt it was easier to do that. The only little problem I hit was when I went to roll my log up...it break with every roll I did. Good thing is that it will be covered in more buttercream and no one will know it happened.



My review: I haven't tasted the Yule Log yet because we are serving it for dessert on Christmas Eve...I have tasted the butter cream and mushrooms which both taste YUMMY! I didn't think that any part was hard to make but I was just a little nervous about making them. Buttercream can be problematic and my jellyroll technique needs some practise but all in all it wasn't a bad experience. I don't know if i would make it all again but it isn't on the NEVER AGAIN list. I might make the mushrooms again soon because those came out just too cute and I might try to put faces on them...lol.

I wrote up my post too soon because I did the dumbest thing...well sort of. I read the directions on how to put the log together and thought I had everything correct. I saw that it said to put in the frig after you roll it for several hours...I didn't see anything mentioned about the remaining buttercream. So I put that in a container and into the frig as well. The experience buttercream people are probably shaking their heads but as a beginner I didn't know any better. It was hard as a rock and I didn't know what to do so I panic. I thought it I beat it in the mixer again it would soften up...no it curdled...but I knew what to do thanks to the DB website again. I put it over simmering water and whipped it back to life.

Holiday Candy!

As everyone knows I love to make candy. So, every year I make a platter of candy to bring to my in-laws for Christmas. I think it's become a tradition and if I don't show up with it, they would probably tell me to go home. This year I made my usual cherry cordials (not pictured), Santa Cookies, and butter crunch (pictured left of the Santa Cookies). I also decided to bring back the peppermint bark and to try a new candy this year, peppermint patties (picture right of the Santa cookies).




I found the recipe for the Peppermint Patties on the Eagle Brand website and when I read it seemed very easy to make. My review of the recipe is that they were as easy to make as they seemed. But I was a little frustrated with them. They stuck to the wax paper when it came time to flip them. But I found if you flipped them onto another piece of wax paper and then let them "hang" there for a few minutes it was easier to peel them off. Also, when it came time to dip them into the chocolate they seemed to melt and you could not get them off the fork. So I ended up just brushing the tops and the bottoms with the chocolate instead. Next time I might just freeze them for a while and then try dipping them. Over all they were worth the time to make them. I think they came out pretty tasty.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Part 1 of my Daring Bakers December Challenge

I know I am really cutting it close to make this month's challenge but do to some unavoidable events this month...this is the best I can do.

So I decided tonight to make the meringue mushroom's and tomorrow to bake the cake part of the Yule Log. I really was going to wait until tomorrow to post about everything but I am just so excited about how the mushrooms came out. Tomorrow I will post the recipe and my experience/review of the recipe. Tonight is just all about the mushroom!!


P.S. I just want to put little faces on them and give them names....is that weird?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Wilton 2104-4010 Cookie Pro Ultra Cookie Press



This is the cookie press Karen and I used to make our spritz/butter cookies. Its awsome..so easy to use and OMG...the cookes come out awsome. Here is the recipe for the classic spritz cookies:

1 1/2 cups butter
1 cup granuated sugar
1 egg
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp almond extract ( if you dont have...i used an extra 1/2 tsp of vanilla- came out awsome )
3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder

Pre heat oven to 375. Thoroughly cream butter and sugar. Add egg, milk, vanilla and almont extract; beat well. Mix in flour and baking powder; gradually add to creamed mixture, mixing to make a smooth dough. Do not chill. Place dough into cookie press and press cookies onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10-12 mins or until lightly browned around edges. Remove cookies from sheet and cool.

Makes 7-8 dozen cookies

Enjoy your holiday baking :)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Mint Chocolate Sandwiches

MINT CHOCOLATE SANDWICHES

1 cup semi sweet chocolate
2 cups flour
2/3 cup butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
2 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 cup sugar - divided
24 chocolate covered thin mint candies

Melt chocolate pieces.

In large bowl beat melted chocolate, flour, butter, corn syrup, baking soda, salt, egg, & 1/2 cup sugar.

Roll dough & refrigerate for 2 hours. With hands, shape dough into small balls and roll in sugar to coat. Place on ungreased cookie sheet and bake about 12-15 mins. Quickly move half of cookies. Place mint pattie on bottom cookie and place second cookie on top. Press together so mint spreads evenly. Remove to cool.

* use very thin balls.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Christmas Cookies

Hi Girls...Karen and I got alot of baking done yesterday. Here is a pic' of the assortment of cookies I made. They are all my moms favorites...or most of them anyway. I made the chocolate chip cookies with the reeses mini cup in the center, chocolate mint sandwiches, chocolate spritz cookies ( butter cookies ) and regular spritz cookes. I made alot so I could give my brothers, sister and Dad a taste of the holidays, just like my mom would have done =).

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cookie Weekend Bust...but not totally.

Due to the bad weather predicted to hit the Northeast we all decided it wasn't worth it to get stuck or worse this weekend. We did get together for a very yummy dinner and then parted ways. When I went to sleep last night the snow still didn't come but when I woke up it was here and crusted over with some ice.

I didn't get much baking done this weekend but really didn't have too much planned. I already had planned to make my sugar cookies and a cake next weekend. So I decided to make some peanut clusters today for Mike to bring into work with him this week. I also tried a new cookie recipe for Nutella Cookies to bring with me to my in-laws for Christmas (that is if they make it there). I saw the Scotto family make them on the Today Show and wanted to make them as soon as I heard that it was made with Nutella...which I LOVE!!



Nutella Cookies
Scotto Family
36 cookies

INGREDIENTS

• 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1/2 cup butter
• 1/2 cup Nutella
• 1/2 cup granulated sugar
• 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
• 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
• 1 egg

DIRECTIONS
1. Sift together flour, salt and baking powder; set aside.
2. Cream butter, Nutella and sugars; beat in vanilla and egg.
3. Stir in flour mixture, blending well.
4. Put dough into refrigerator for at least 1 hour or until chilled.
5. Shape mixture into ¾-inch balls. Place on greased baking sheets and bake cookies at 375° for about 10 to 12 minutes.

Review: This is a really easy cookie recipe to make and didn't take me much time at all even with the chill time. I made the dough put it in the frig and then made my peanut clusters...rested a little big and then continued with the cookies. The only negative thing I have to say about this recipe was that it left out the chilling part. Luckily I saw them make it live on the show and remembered them mentioning to chill it before you roll them. The dough is really soft and probably would be too sticky to work with if you don't chill the dough. I used my cookie scoop (I love my cookie scoop) and it went really fast!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Almost Cookie Time

It has been a couple of busy weeks for us Baking Buddies and reason for no postings. My husband went away on business this past week and I was busy getting the house ready for a Haunkkah Party and buying all the other supplies for it. I did what every host worries about doing and I forgot to make one of the veggies and by the time I remembered it was too late. Now I have a ton of green beans leftover.

Next week there will be a ton to post about since this upcoming weekend is our annual Holiday Cookie Weekend.



I am very excited for it and can't wait to do what we have planned. The weekend is going to start with one of our favorite activities a trip to Wal-Mart!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Daring Bakers Challenge: Tender Potato Bread

I have to say I was super excited when I saw what the challenge for November was to make Tender Potato Bread. After the super sweet (and very yummy) October challenge this was a welcomed recipe to make. I have also been wanting to get more experience with making bread for a really long time. I feel like now that I live in my own house this might be possible. Before when we lived in the apartment there was just no room to make the dough or for it to rise properly (very drafty and cold).

One thing I liked about this recipe was that the ingredient list was short and I actually had most of the stuff in the house already. For the most part I didn't have any problems with this recipe and enjoyed making it. This time around making the challenge I got my husband to watch my son so I could bake in peace. This helped a lot with me not feeling rushed or like I was messing something up.

I was concerned with all the warnings about the softness of this dough and not to use to much flour. I thought I had this all under control and the dough was coming out great going in to the first rise...then it happened. I turned out the dough to kneed it just before you shape it. My original plan was to make them into clover leaf rolls which look so cool. Well my dough was SOOO sticky that I couldn't shape the dough at all and decided to just drop dough into a muffin tin and make muffin rolls. They actually came out really well and for the first time ever they didn't even stick to my muffin tin. This recipe makes a lot of dough so I put the extra into an 8x8 pan and made a nice thin sort of loaf out of it.



Review: I enjoyed making this recipe and even with my crazy sticky dough I might make it again when I have the time. My husband was very impressed with the say it came out and really liked having the bread with dinner (my son enjoyed it as well). I also enjoyed having the rolls with my lunch for a couple of days...below is a picture of my sandwich I made using the potato bread muffin with my salad.

I think my problem was that I used way to much potato and maybe even not enough flour. I feel with a little more bread making experience attempting this recipe again would make the difference. I have to say most of the time I make dough it is usually in a machine of some kind.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Knock off Baby Bunch

I love watching the Martha Stewart show and always enjoy the fun craft ideas on it. The one that recently really caught my eye was from an episode back in October. It was about a cute idea on how to make a cute baby gift that was practical but pretty as well called the Baby Bunch. It is a bouquet of flowers but not just flower but baby clothes rolled up to look like roses as well. Since I have a couple of relatives and a friend that are going to be having babies soon and thought this would be a great idea to learn how to make.



Review: It was really easy to roll and put everything together...I have to say much easier then I thought it would be. The pictures above are from my first attempt at making this and I don't think it looks that bad. I think the direction forget to tell you to add some wire to the clothes so you can put everything together...if you watch the video on the website you will see what I mean. The only thing that I am sort of bummed out about is that it cost me about $25 to make it after buying all the supplies. I do have a few things left over (like the paper flowers and leaves) but not that much. I would debate on spending the $25 on this or getting a real gift for the new mom/baby. That being said if you want to purchase one of these from the real Baby Bunch people the price starts at $50 before tax and shipping are added.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Chocolate-Mint Wafters...from Everyday Food

I am starting to think about what else to make for the upcoming holidays...besides my standard Grandma's Sugar Cookie (which I would be disowned from every family if I didn't make them). I got the new issue of Everyday Food and they have a bunch of cookie recipes in it.


Chocolate-Mint Wafers
Prep: 25 minutes Total: 35 minutes, plus chilling

Ingredients
1 cup all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
12 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
Sprinkles, for decorating (optional)

Directions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Set aside.


Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and vanilla. With mixer on low, gradually add flour mixture; mix just until combined.

Form balls of dough (each equal to 1 teaspoon), and place on two baking sheets, about 2 inches apart. Dip the bottom of a glass in water, and flatten balls into 1 1/2-inch rounds (about 1/4 inch thick). Bake until slightly firm to the touch, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating sheets halfway through. Immediately transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make chocolate coating: Place chocolate, peppermint extract, and remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt in a large heatproof bowl set over (not in) a saucepan of simmering water. Heat, stirring occasionally, until smooth, 2 to 3 minutes; remove from heat.

Line a baking sheet with parchment or waxed paper. Set each cookie across the tines of a fork, dunk in chocolate, then tap underside of fork on side of the bowl to allow excess chocolate to drip off. Place cookies on prepared baking sheet, and decorate with sprinkles, if desired.

Refrigerate until chocolate has hardened, about 30 minutes, and keep chilled until ready to serve.


Review: This cookie is OK not sure if I would make it again because it was more time consuming then I thought it would be. I have to admit that I am comparing it to the girl scout version which are way better then this recipe. Making the dough was pretty easy and using my cookie scoop made rolling the dough into balls easy. I wasn't that good at flattening the dough into disk with the glass and it got sort of stuck a few times. The most time consuming part of this recipe for me was dipping then into the chocolate...something I am sure gets easier with practise. Which brings me to my first issue with the recipe. I don't know if it is a typo or what but I didn't get 44 cookies out of this recipe. I got about 24 cookies or so out of this recipe. To be fair I think I did make them a little bit larger then the 1 teaspoon size because I used my cookie scoop which I believe is 1 1/2 teaspoon size. The other issue I have with the recipe is the total time it took to make the cookies...35 minutes...maybe if have a machine that will coat all the cookies at once in chocolate. I think it took me about 1 hour to maybe 1 1/2 hours to make this recipe from start to finish.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Peach Glazed Chicken

Last night for dinner I made another quick 5 ingredient recipe for dinner. I felt it took a little longer to make this recipe then the Deep Dish Pizza Casserole but not by much.

Peach Glazed Chicken
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 lb chicken tenders
1/2 cup peach preserves
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 green onion, chopped
1/4 teaspoon pepper

Add oil to pan and place over medium-high heat until hot. Add chicken and saute 5 minutes on each side or until chicken is done. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.

Reduce heat to low; add preserves and remaining 3 ingredients to pan. Cook stirring constantly until preserves melt and onion is tender. Spoon preserves over chicken and serve.

Review: Everyone liked this dinner...even the little one. I would defiantly make this recipe again because of how easy it was to make it and how good it tasted. The vinegar adds a tang to it and doesn't make it too sweet from the peach preserves. I might even try it again with orange marmalade instead of the peach preserves.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

A Fast and Easy Dinner

I am always looking for fast and easy dinner recipes to make during the week. With my husband's job I never know when he will be home from work. I don't mind making things ahead of time so Jacob and I could eat dinner but sometimes I like to make it "fresh" for Mike.

I was hanging out with my neighbor Kathy and she has a book with recipes that are 5 ingredients in 20 minutes or less (not sure of what the exact title of the book is). I found 2 recipes that caught my eye in the short time I looked at the book. The below recipe is one of them which I made Monday night for dinner.

Deep Dish Pizza Casserole

1lb ground beef
1 can (10oz) refrigerator pizza crust
1 can (15oz) of chunky tomato sauce
6 slices (1 oz) mozzarella
Toppings (optional)

Cook meat over medium high heat until brown. Drain if necessary and return to skillet. Add sauce and cook until heated.

While meat cooks, coat a 13x9x2 dish with cooking spray. Unroll crust and press into bottom of pan and halfway up sides of dish.

Line crust with 3 slices of cheese and top with meat sauce. Bake at 425 for 12 minutes. Top with remaining cheese and bake for 5 minutes. Let cook for 5 minutes and serve.

Review: This is the perfect recipe for me during the week. It is fast and really doesn't' that that much time to prep or cook. I couldn't find the chunky sauce in the can that the recipe called for but you can really use your favorite sauce. I also had an 8 oz package of cheese in the house already and just used the amount I thought was enough. Mike likes a lot of sauce and we both love our cheese. I would definitely make this recipe again for a quick weekday meal. I thought of making a Mexican version with using the taco season while cooking the meat....add a little salsa to the meat...and then using either cheddar or Monterrey jack cheese.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Mega Clusters

Michelle and I have been talking about these chocolate creations we got when we visited the Jelly Belly Factory last year. Since we've been talking about that for the past few weeks and trying to figure out what was in them. I decided to try to make them. Not sure if they came out the same, but they look really good and were really easy to make. The version I made is one of my favorite flavor combos, peanut butter and chocolate. So I called them Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Mega Clusters.

Peanut Butter and Milk Chocolate Mega Clusters

1 lb milk chocolate
3/4 cup chunky peanut butter
1 1/2 cup Rice Krispies
1 1/2 cup mini marshmallows
1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

Melt chocolate and peanut butter together in the microwave. Mix well. Add rice krispies, marshmallows and chocolate chips to chocolate mixture. Line cupcake pan with paper cups. Using an ice cream scooper, scoop chocolate mixture into cups. Cool in refrigerator until firm. Enjoy. Makes 12 mega clusters.

Review: OH MY I'm in love.... soooooo good. I would definitely make them again. To make them for more of an individual serving size I would make them mini muffin size. Also I'm thinking of making a caramel version and maybe even a mint version. Yum!!

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Running for a Good Cause

I wouldn't normally post something like this on our blog but it is for a really good cause and if my sister-in-law is going to run a marathon for it...then it must be very important. Below is the email she wrote to all of us:

Hello friends and family,
Sorry for the mass email to those of you I haven't spoken to in forever. Hope you are all doing well this weekend and feeling in a generous spirit since I'm about to hit you up for money once again. This time it is a double cause. First off, I'm actually signed up, officially registered and semi-officially training to run the Boston Marathon on April 21, 2008. For those of you who are thinking "What? How did she possibly qualify for the Boston Marathon the 'world's oldest marathon' and some may say the most prestigious?"

I didn't. That leads me to the second cause. I am doing this strictly to raise money for Casa Myrna Vazquez, where I have been a full-time advocate in the Adolescent Transitional Living Program for over two years. I have pledged to raise over $3,500 and am appealing to all of you that love and support me so, so much to help me in this journey. This money will go directly towards improving services provided to women and children staying in Casa Myrna shelters or utilizing community based legal, mental health or emergency hotline services. If you would like success stories, just ask; I have many accounts of how Casa Myrna has improved the lives of women and children in need.

Show your support in two ways:
1) Visit my personal high-tech fundraising page at
www.firstgiving.com/stolfimarathon to donate or donate directly to http://www.casamyrna.org/ (click "online donations and payments" in the upper right-hand corner and type "Sara Stolfi Marathon" in the comments box while making a donation). Either way is quick and easy; firstgiving takes out a service charge, but you can leave me a personal message which is nice.

2) Spread the word on my crazy quest to run the Boston Marathon for Casa Myrna Vazquez to anyone and everyone who would be willing to donate.

Thank you for your time and hopefully your monetary support. Your donations are motivation for me to actually keep up with my training schedule. Take care.

Love,
Sara



Friday, November 2, 2007

Congratulations to Jenn's Family

Congratulations to Jenn's family on the arrival of their newest member. Her sister-in-law and brother welcomed to the world a baby girl. All the best wishes and happy memories to the new family.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween

Well tonight we had a really fun time taking Jacob for his first Trick or Treating trip around the block. We couldn't believe our eyes on the amount of kids that were out. My neighbor told me we get a lot of Kids trick or treating but that was the most I have ever seen in my life.

So you know when you are prepared for something to happen it never does...well I was prepared for a ton of kids. I guess the majority of them came while we were out with Jacob. Now I have a TON of candy left over plus the good amount Jacob got from tonight. I was wondering if there is anything I can make with all of it...time to get creative or just give it to my husband to bring into work.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Daring Bakers Challenge: Bostoni Creme Pie

I was looking at other food blogs from The Foodie BlogRoll and started to notice something. A banner with the name Daring Bakers on it and wondered what it was. So I click on the logo and it brought me to a page that told me all about it. It sounded like fun and something I needed right now. A reason to bake and blog about it...not that I really needed a reason for that to happen.

This my first challenge which is called Bostoni Creme Pie...something I have never made before. I was defiantly up for this challenge and couldn't wait to get started. One thing that really attracted me to this group was looking at every one's past challenge post and how different they came out. I thought it was really awesome how everyone interpreted it differently but really ended up with the same thing. So I thought how I could make this dessert in my own special way...since it is October I decided to put a little Halloween twist on it.



Bostini Cream Pie(from Donna Scala & Kurtis Baguley of Bistro Don Giovanni and Scala's Bistro)
Serving Size: 8 Generous Sevings
INGREDIENTS:
Custard
3/4 cup whole milk
2 3/4 tablespoons cornstarch
1 whole egg, beaten
9 egg yolks, beaten
3 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
1/2 vanilla bean
1/2 cup + 1 tablespoon sugar

Chiffon Cake
1 1/2 cups cake flour
3/4 cup superfine sugar
1 1/3 teaspoons baking powder
1/3 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup canola oil
1/3 cup beaten egg yolks (3 to 4 yolks)
3/4 cup fresh orange juice
1 1/2 tablespoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup egg whites (about 8 large)
1 teaspoon cream of tartar

Chocolate Glaze
8 ounces semi or bittersweet chocolate
8 ounces unsalted butter

INSTRUCTIONS
To prepare the custard:
Combine the milk and cornstarch in a bowl; blend until smooth. Whisk in the whole egg and yolks, beating until smooth. Combine the cream, vanilla bean and sugar in a saucepan and carefully bring to a boil. When the mixture just boils, whisk a ladleful into the egg mixture to temper it, then whisk this back into the cream mixture. Cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture is thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the custard and pour into 8 large custard cups. Refrigerate to chill.

To prepare the chiffon cakes:
Preheat the oven to 325°. Spray 8 molds with nonstick cooking spray. You may use 7-ounce custard cups, ovenproof wide mugs or even large foil cups. Whatever you use should be the same size as the custard cups. Sift the cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt into a large bowl. Add the oil, egg yolks, orange juice, zest and vanilla. Stir until smooth, but do not overbeat. Beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and beat until soft peaks form. Gently fold the beaten whites into the orange batter. Fill the sprayed molds nearly to the top with the batter. Bake approximately 25 minutes, until the cakes bounce back when lightly pressed with your fingertip. Do not overbake. Remove from the oven and let cool on a wire rack. When completely cool, remove the cakes from the molds. Cover the cakes to keep them moist.

To prepare the glaze:
Chop the chocolate into small pieces. Place the butter in a saucepan and heat until it is just about to bubble. Remove from the heat; add the chocolate and stir to melt. Pour through a strainer and keep warm.

To assemble:
Cut a thin slice from the top of each cake to create a flat surface. Place a cake flat-side down on top of each custard. Cover the tops with warm chocolate glaze. Serve immediately.

Review:
I can't say that I never made a dessert with so many parts before because I think I have. It just felt like more because I have a little one the take care of as well this time. All parts were very easy to make and it was nice that you can make each part separately. I made the custard one night, the cake the next day and the chocolate sauce just before I served the dessert. The only oops made during the recipe were really user errors and nothing to do with the recipes. I really liked the taste of this dessert and would make it again but next time make smaller bite size servings. I felt it was too much or as my husband put it to rich...for the serving size I made. Just for health reasons really this is a special occasion or a request only type of dessert...not good for people who have cholestral problems.

Notes:
The host of each challenge allows a few substitutes in each recipe. I was going to use a the vanilla bean because I thought I had one but it must have gotten lost in the move or burried way in the back of the cabinet....so I ended up using the vanilla extract. I also used all purpose flour instead of the cake flour because I don't have room for another sack of flour....and with just needing 1 1/2 cups meant most of the sack would still be full.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Recipe #3 from Current Everyday Food Magazine

Yesterday I went to my parents house to hang out for a little bit and need a quick to put together recipe for dinner. With only really 3 ingredients how could you get any easier then that. I made rice and peas to go along side of it...I was going to make Veggie Fritters but Mike got home late and I was feeling lazy at that point.



Honey-Soy Glazed Chicken
Prep: 5 minutes Total: 40 minutes

Honey, soy sauce, and a splash of water make a simple sticky glaze. Lining the pan with aluminum foil eases after-dinner clean-up.

Ingredients
Serves 4.
1/2 cup honey
2 tablespoons soy sauce
8 skinless chicken drumsticks (about 3 pounds total)
coarse salt and ground pepper

Directions

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. Line a shallow roasting pan or 9-by-13-inch baking dish with aluminum foil. In a large bowl, mix together honey, soy sauce, and 1/3 cup water. Add chicken, and toss to coat; season with salt and pepper. Transfer chicken and honey mixture to prepared roasting pan.

Bake chicken, basting with juices from edges of pan every 10 minutes, until well browned and an instant-read thermometer inserted into thickest part of drumstick (avoiding bone) registers 165 degrees, 30 to 40 minutes. Serve chicken drizzled with pan juices.
Review:
This is a super easy recipe and a great alternative to just plan baked chicken. I would make this again but next time maybe use a little less water. I felt it make it too watery and didn't really glaze the chicken well. I also used breast instead of the drumsticks because that I what I had in the freezer. I would also turn the chicken half way through to coat it a little more then just basting it. The smell in the house was great.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Annoying Problem...not food related

I have a very annoying problem which isn't food related but I need to vent about it.

We keep getting phone calls every month sometimes a couple of times a month...a couple of times in a row...people calling us looking for someone who does not live here. How do I know it is the same people...caller ID...you have to think everyone in this day and age has it. I feel like the next time this person calls to go off on them...and asking (in a nice way of course) to stop call my phone number. The sort of funny thing is that person's phone number is one digit from mine. This makes me wonder why he is really calling my number every month.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Everyday Food Dinner...yummy!

Last week I got the new edition of Everyday Food magazine in the mall. So it only took me 4 days to make something out of it...not that bad.

Cornbread-and-Beef Skillet Pie
Ingredients
Serves 4.

1/2 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
1 teaspoon baking soda
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 red bell peppers (ribs and seeds removed), thinly sliced
1 medium red onion, chopped
1 package (10 ounces) white mushrooms, trimmed and thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds ground sirloin
1/4 cup tomato paste
3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 large egg, lightly beaten

Directions


Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a small bowl, whisk together cornmeal, 1/2 cup flour, baking soda, and 1/2 teaspoon salt; set aside.

In a large ovenproof skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add peppers, onion, and mushrooms; season with salt and pepper. Cook until tender, 6 to 8 minutes, tossing occasionally.


Raise heat to high; add beef and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, until meat is no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in remaining 2 tablespoons flour and 2/3 cup water; season with salt and pepper.


Make cornmeal batter: Add sour cream and egg to reserved cornmeal mixture; stir just until moistened. Drop tablespoons of batter over beef mixture in skillet, 1 inch apart. Bake until biscuits are golden brown and a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean, 15 to 20 minutes.


Review: It was really easy to make, took no time what so ever and I had a good amount of the ingredients already in my pantry. As my husband put it...this is a keeper. I only did one thing different was use ground turkey instead of the beer. Mostly because turkey is healthier then beef but also because it is cheaper. I don't know if using the turkey cause it to be a little soupy. So next time I might try this recipe with beef to see if I get the same results and see if it taste better. Oh I also currently don't have an oven proof skillet so I cooked it in a pot and then added it to a casserole dish to put in the oven.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

I Love Martha Stewart!!

It really shouldn't be a big surprise that I love Martha Stewart. After all I have cooked a bunch of recipes from her EveryDay Food magazine and I am sure I will cook a bunch more. I DVR her show every day and visit her website a lot.

Yesterday I got an email saying that I have been selected to recieve tickets to see a taping of HER SHOW!!!



So I changed the November month theme to include any Martha Stewart recipe.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Storing Honey

Again from America's Test Kitchen...

"Keep honey out of the refrigerator. Unlike some other sweeteners, such as maple syrup, honey is highly resistant to microbial growth due to its naturally low moisture content and slightly acidic nature. And refrigeration can cause honey to crystallize or become cloudy. If kept tightly capped in a moisture-proof container, processed or pasteurized honey can be safely kept at room temperature for at least two years."

Cinnamon - who knew!

Another article from America's Test Kitchen...

CINNAMON: "In 1910, true cinnamon (made from the bark of a tropical evergreen tree) cost as much as $100 per pound, so merchants imported cassia—a much more commonly available and stronger-tasting tree bark—and labeled it cinnamon. Whatever the name, apple pies and mulled cider wouldn't be the same without it. But while there's only one true cinnamon tree, there are a number of cassias, so the "cinnamon" you buy from two sources may not taste the same."

What else apples are good for!

So, I get a weekly email from America's Test Kitchen. The email itself is good and bad, as I've found most times when I find an article that I want to read, I have to subscribe and although the first 2 weeks are free, I don't want to pay for a subscription after that (plus, I'll probably forget to cancel! =). Anyhow! I came across this article, which I thought was neat...

"Apples have long been touted as a health aid (an apple a day…); they're less well known for their ability to preserve food. Adding an apple to a sack of potatoes will keep the potatoes sprout-free—the ethylene gas that an apple emits suppresses the elongation of the potatoes' cells, which is what causes sprouts to form."

Monday, October 15, 2007

me


Yummy Brownies










We had our Grand Opening at the salon Friday night. It was nice, everyone made something yummy and a bunch of clients came by to celebrate with us. I of course was asked to make the desert so I chose to make these awsome brownies. These are so easy and OMG..so good. Everyone complimented me on them and asked how I made them. Its so easy, all you do is:
Bake a box brownie mix ( family size ) in a 9x12 pan. Let cool completely ( I put in fridge til cooled ). Icing with white or vanilla icing and put back in fridge. Melt 2 cups ( one small bag ) chocolate chips and 1 cup peanut butter in sause pan. In another bowl measure out 3 cups rice krispy cereal. When the Chocolate and peanut butter is all melted and smooth, pour into bowl with rice krispys. Mix so all the cereal is covered w/ chocolate. Spread over brownies and put back in fridge to harded.
These are very sweet and look like it was harder to do then it actually is. I highly recommend them for your next party =)

Thursday, October 11, 2007

This Weather is Driving me Crazy!

The weather is really driving me crazy here in NY. One minute it is 80+ degrees and the next it is in the 60s...make up your mind mother nature. I just refuse to turn on the AC in OCTOBER!

Well lucky for me that it is now raining and cold because my husband request beef stew for dinner one night. It just wouldn't be the same yummy stew eating it when it is hot outside. I also wanted to try to make the below stew recipe for another reason. Mike informed me a month or so ago that his office has a soup/stew cook off challenge thing every year around the Superbowl...I even think they have a cheesy name for it like The Super Bowl...lol.

The recipe comes from Heidi (I don't know where she got it from) and ever since she made it my Mike has been asking for it. Mind you he never tried it but just the name alone had him drooling for it.

Beef and Guinness Stew
Ingredients:
2 lb boneless beef chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
3 tablespoons water
1 1/2 tablespoons tomato paste
1 cup beef broth
1 cup Guinness or other Irish stout
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 or 2 fresh rosemary sprig

Instructions:
Pat beef dry. Stir together flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Add beef, turning to coat, then shake off excess and transfer to a plate.


Heat oil in a wide heavy pot over moderately high heat until just smoking, then brown meat in 3 batches, turning occasionally, about 5 minutes per batch, transferring to a bowl.

Add onion, garlic, and water to pot and cook, scraping up any brown bits from bottom of pot and stirring frequently, until onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

Add tomato paste and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in beef with any juices accumulated in bowl, broth, beer, Worcestershire sauce, and rosemary and bring to a simmer, then cover.

Cook a few hours on a low heat. I added some veggies to it the last hour and then some potatoes the last half hour.


Notes:
You might also want to add some corn starch or flour to thicken the stew.


Review: I really liked it and would defiantly make it again. I used a very large pot because it looked like a lot of meat and I wasn't sure of the amount it would yield. Next time I would use the smaller stock pot I have as the only thing I would do different. I added carrots, peas and potatoes at the end which were all great additions. I also used 1 whole can of the beer instead of the 1 cup...since it was mid-afternoon I didn't feel like finishing the beer.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

Apple Pie Yum

This past Sunday I went apple picking with Michelle and family. We all had a great time. It was fun to see her father-in-law really get into picking the apples. I think he picked the most apples out of everyone. Below is a picture of my first apple pie of the season. I tried a new crust recipe that I got from Martha Stewarts website. Recipe below. Enjoy!



Pate Brisee (French version of a classic pie or pastry crust)


Makes 1 double-crust or 2 single-crust 9- to 10-inch pies

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, chilled and cut into small pieces
  • 1/4 to 1/2 cup ice water

Directions

  1. In the bowl of a food processor, combine flour, salt, and sugar. Add butter, and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal, 8 to 10 seconds.

  2. With machine running, add ice water in a slow, steady stream through feed tube. Pulse until dough holds together without being wet or sticky; be careful not to process more than 30 seconds. To test, squeeze a small amount together: If it is crumbly, add more ice water, 1 tablespoon at a time.

  3. Divide dough into two equal balls. Flatten each ball into a disc and wrap in plastic. Transfer to the refrigerator and chill at least 1 hour. Dough may be stored, frozen, up to 1 month.
My review of this recipe it that it taste great and very easy to make with the food processor. The only problem I have is rolling out the dough. I've only made my own dough a bunch of time, but I never seem to roll it out even enough or in the right shape. I guess it's a skill that comes with practice.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

An Apple A Day...

Since I can remember my family has always gone apple picking each fall. We would make a day of it and just have a great time. Which is a tradition I am excited to pass on to my family. We weren't able to go last year because we were in CA and they didn't have any orchards near where we were living (we went pumpkin in Half Moon Bay).

This year is a completely different story because we are back in NY after about 6 years and very close to my favorite place to go apple picking...Lawrence Farms. This trip was also Jacob's first time going apple picking so we made a day of it. Heidi was coming over to spend the day with us and we called up my in-laws (which I also found out that my in-laws have never ever before gone apple picking)...and headed out to the orchards.


I thought to myself what would make this day perfect...Pulled Pork for dinner from the slow cooker. I heard from other neighbors that my neighbor Cathy had an awesome recipe for it...so I asked for it.

Dave's Pulled Pork Sandwiches

4-5lb Pork Shoulder/Butt Roast
Rub
3 Tbls Chili Powder
2 Tbls Onion Powder
2 Tbls Garlic Powder
2 Tbls Brown Sugar
1 Tbls Ground Mustard
1 Tbls Paprika
1 Tbls Cayenne Pepper
1 Tbls Salt
2 cans Coca Cola
1 bottle Barbeque Sauce ( I used KC Masters)
Rolls ( I used "Martin's Potato Rolls")

Combine rub ingredients and coat outside of the pork roast. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate a few hours or overnight.

Preheat dutch oven on stove on high and preheat oven to 300 degrees (or put slow cooker on high). Brown pork roast in dutch over (or in slow cooker) on all sides. Turn off stove (or turn slow cooker down to 300 degrees/low). Add enough Coca Cola so that the liquid comes up 1/2 way up the roast. Cover dutch oven and place in oven (or cover slow cooker). Braise pork roast until it's tender enough that it can be completely pulled apart by a fork - this will take several hours. Shred entire roast into small pieces using forks. Add bottle of barbeque sauce and mix together. Serve on rolls.

My Review: I AM IN LOVE...with this pulled pork recipe. Clearly the best I have ever made or had in my life. The rub adds a nice layer of spice to the meat. The rub has a little kick to it but it isn't so spicy that you can't eat a ton of it. Adding the bbq sauce to the cola sauce really makes it taste great. I will defiantly make this recipe again and I am excited that I have leftovers. This recipe is a keeper!

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Candy Corn Season

Ok really I am not trying to take over Heidi's role as the candy lady but I think I am gaining on her. She was the one that actually told me about this limited edition candy from Hershey's. They are called Hershey Kisses: Candy Corn. I found a review on them at Candyaddict.com and then knew what I was looking for.


My review: When I first open the bag I got a great big smell of what seemed to me be vanilla or marshmallow. Above is a picture I found on the website of candyaddict of what the kisses look like. They really do look like candy corn but to me at first don't taste like them. I had another taste and thought about it and they do taste a little bit like candy corn but mostly like white chocolate to me. I don't think I would buy them again...just something new to try.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Dyszler’s Chocolate Chip Muffins

So, most of you (if not all) have probably seen the below recipe from Karen and may have been lucky enough to sample them. This past weekend, we had guests for breakfast (before we headed the the Norwalk Boat Show - great show with tons of boats and I even got to step aboard a $1.3 million yacht!). I made these muffins in the morning and pulled them out of the oven piping hot. WOW! Were they good! (My guests are still talking about them!)

I decided to make mini chocolate chip muffins for our broker open house (our condo officially went on the market this past Saturday!). I mixed mini chocolate chips into the batter and sprinkled the cinnamon sugar on top (instead of the 2 layer approach). Here is what it looked like...

The thing I was really excited by was that I tried a new tactic! If you've made cupcakes or muffins before, you know it's a laborious task to scoop batter into each muffin "hole" (is there a term for this?!) and especially if you have 24+ mini muffins to make! So, I decided to put the batter in a plastic Ziploc baggie and cut a hole out of the corner. (Trust me this was not brain science and I'm sure thousands of others have done this, but...) It was the easiest way to get the batter into the pan and I was done in a quarter of the time it usually takes me! So, I was very excited by this development and hoped that it would also save you ladies some time too!

P.S. The recipe usually makes 6 LARGE muffins, this made 36-39 mini muffins. =)

Ingredients:
Batter
¼ lb. Margarine (1 Stick)
1 cup Sugar
2 Eggs
1 cup Sour Cream
1 tsp. Vanilla
2 cups Flour
½ tsp Baking Soda

Cinnamon Mix
½ cup Sugar
1 tsp. Cinnamon

Chocolate Chips 6 ounces (use regular size chips)

Instructions: Cream together margarine and sugar. Add eggs, sour cream and vanilla. Add flour and the baking soda. Spoon half the batter into the muffin pans. Sprinkle approximately half of the cinnamon mix on the batter and add chocolate chips. Place the rest of the batter into the pans. Top with the remainder of the cinnamon mix and chocolate chips.

Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes. (Only took 33 minutes in my electric oven.)

Makes 6 large muffins.

TIPS:

When sprinkling the first layer of the cinnamon mix, make sure the mix and chocolate chips do not touch the sides of the pan. This will make the muffins split in half.

Use a cake tester and poke through the center of the muffin to make sure that they are cooked thoroughly.

On the top layer, tap the chocolate chips softly into the batter. This will keep them from rolling off once the muffins rise.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

I Love Cookbooks

When I packed up my apartment a year ago to start our moving around process. I noticed that I have a good amount of cookbooks. Big mistake was putting them all in one box because it was SOOO heavy. I can't really say how many I have really used but I just love having them. The more pictures the better. I visited my mother-in-law who also loves cookbooks and just got a new one (The Chocolate Bible).

Here is a list of a few of my cookbooks:
How to Cook Everything
The Best Recipes
I am Just here for the Food
How to Cook without A Book
The Joy of Cooking
Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook
The Good Housekeeping Illustrated Book of Desserts


I know I have more than that but they are in a box in my basement. I would really love to display them in my kitchen BUT I have a toddler who would love nothing more then to spend hours pulling them down off a bookcase if I got one. Does anyone have a suggestion on where I could put them and how to keep my son from trying to play with them?

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Another New Candy...Oh So Minty

After a little drama today (my son got stung by his first bee) I went to CVS to pick up some medicine. I decided to treat myself to a little bit of candy but oh which one. Then I remembered that 3 Musketeers came out with a new candy bar...3 Musketeers Mint.

Review: I liked the taste of this candy bar. At first I thought that it would taste like a normal 3 Musketeers but with an added taste of mint but I was SOOOO wrong. It is dark chocolate on the outside and just mint on the inside. It reminded it me of a Junior Mint but not as intense as one but just as good. I would definitely buy this one again.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

For a Good Cause

A friend of mine at work told me about Lean Cuisine offering insulted lunch bags for $9.95. The best part about them (besides looking so cute) is it that $5 of every purchase goes to Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Check it out. I believe it's a yearly fundraiser for them. I bought the pink one with the bubbles.

LEAN CUISINE® designer lunch bags for Susan G. Komen for the Cure

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Almost apple pie time!!!

As all you girls know, we've been talking apple pie's all day today. I was telling Jenn that this apple peeler from LLBean is AWSOME!! Such a great thing to have especally if you like to make apple pies. It cuts down the peeling time by so much. This peels, slices and cores all in one swift move. Very well worth getting. I use it all season long.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Michelle's August Recipe - Citrus Spritzers

It is the end of August and I need to complete my recipe for this month. Once I saw this recipe in the new Everyday Food magazine I knew I was going to make it.

Citrus Spritzers
serves 8
2 cups fresh orange juice (from 6 oranges), strained
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (from 2-3 lemons), strained
1/4 cup fresh lime juice (from 2 limes), strained
2/3 cup superfine sugar
4 cups seltzer or club soda
1 ounce vodka per serving (optional)
orange, lemon or lime slices, for garnish (optional)

In a large pitcher, combine juices and sugar; stir well to dissolve sugar. When ready to serve, add seltzer; stir gently to combine. Serve over crushed ice; add vodka (if using), and garnish with citrus slices, if desired.

Review: I thought it was good but I didn't do it completely the Martha way...I didn't use fresh OJ and just used what I had in the frig. I also made a mistake and added the seltzer in with the juice and sugar so it wasn't as fizzy as it could have been. I liked the taste of it but next time I would make simple syrup instead of using the superfine sugar and make it a tiny bit sweeter. Also the color of my didn't come out the same color that is in the mag but that could just be because of something else.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Razzberry...Get Razzed!

My son drinks milk like it is going out of style. We go through 2-3 gallons a week...to be fair we also put it in our coffee and Mike uses a bunch for cereal in the morning. I had to make an after dinner run to the supermarket to pick up another gallon for the A.M. breakfast time. I went to a supermarket that I normally don't shop at because of the time. So I couldn't help myself but walk up and down the aisle. Partly because I was out with out baby and with Mike at home watching. I think it was Heidi that I told her I really love going to supermarkets...call me weird but I just can't get enough of them.

At the end of one of the aisles there it was a display with M&M's....I noticed a pink bag and thought hmmm what is that for. Then I saw it say limited edition and RAZZBERRY. Of course I had to buy a couple of bags to try it out.

Review: You really can taste the raspberry and it is a really nice taste. They are however a little bit sweet and feel like I need a glass of milk with them. The M&M's themselves are bigger just like when they put out Ogre size for the movie Shrek. I would by these again and hope they come out with more flavors in the future.

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