Friday, December 24, 2010

Hot Chocolate on a Stick

It is that time of year again when I need to get the teachers a little something for all their hard work during the year. I like to give them something from the store and add a little something homemade as well. I found the perfect thing on another blog (Make & Takes) this year that went with the mug/hot chocolate set I bought...Hot Chocolate on a Stick.




First you need to make a recipe from King Arthur Flour that has been featured in their catalog for some time now...Cocoa Blocks.

The person at Make & Takes used Alton Brown's marshmallow recipe but I thought I would make the recipe I saw last year from King Arthur Flour instead.


Homemade Marshmallow

www.kingarthurflour.com

3 packages (1/4-ounce each) unflavored gelatin
1 cup (8 ounces) cool water, divided
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 cup (11 ounces) light corn syrup
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) vanilla extract
crushed peppermint candies, peppermint oil, or espresso powder, all optional
confectioners' sugar, to sprinkle on top

Combine the gelatin and 1/2 cup cool water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Combine the sugar, corn syrup, salt, and 1/2 cup cool water in a small, deep saucepan. Cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves. Raise the heat to high and cook, without stirring, until the syrup reaches 240°F on a candy thermometer. Remove from the heat.



With mixer on low speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the softened gelatin. Increase the speed to high, and whip until the mixture is very thick and fluffy, and has cooled to lukewarm, 8 to 10 minutes. (It should be cool enough that you can spread it into the pan without burning your fingers.)

Add vanilla towards the end of the mixing time. This is also the time to add a few drops of peppermint oil, if desired, instead of vanilla extract. Or try 1/2 teaspoon espresso powder for a coffee-flavored treat. To use the crushed peppermint candies, which will tint the marshmallow pink and add flavor, stir the candies into the marshmallow mixture, leaving some swirls of plain white.

Spread the marshmallow mixture into a greased 9" x 13" pan (glass or ceramic is best). Use your wet hands to smooth and flatten the marshmallows. Sprinkle confectioners' sugar over the top, and let sit for several hours (or overnight) before cutting. Use a greased knife or cookie cutters to make squares or other shapes. Yield: about 100 1" squares.


Review: Both recipes where not hard to make at all. I found that cocoa blocks to be like making fudge which I guess you can say is fudge in a way. Making homemade marshmallow is something I have always wanted to do again and I think the recipe was much better then the last one I tried out a while ago. Next time I might try a different flavor then vanilla to make it interesting. I did make hot chocolate like suggested on the blog with heating up some milk (6oz) and swirling the stick into it. One of the best Hot Chocolates I have ever had...which makes this a keeper for sure!


Happy Holidays!

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Reindeer Cookies

Someone made these cookies for Jacob's holiday party last week and I just had to try and make them. There really isn't a recipe for them it is more of decorating cookie dough. The only thing I did different was use sugar cookie dough instead of peanut butter cookie dough. I used a heart shaped cookie cuter instead of trying to make triangles. I also put the M&Ms on before they went into the oven and stuck all the chocolate stuff on when they came out of the oven...super easy and super cute!


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pretzel Things...

Today Jacob had a holiday celebration at school and I signed up to bring juice but couldn't pass up the opportunity to make something as well.

I have seen these all over the place lately and I know Heidi just made something similar so I had to give it a try.



Chocolate Pretzel Things

Waffle type pretzels

Hershey Kisses (I used the caramel ones)

M&Ms


1) Preheat over to 275


2) Put the kisses on the pretzels




3) Put in the oven for 2 - 3 minutes (I did 3 and it was too long probably because it was the caramel kind). Take out and put one M&M on top of each pretzel/chocolate.




4) Put in the refrigerator to cool for about 10 minutes. Then eat them!



Review: These are super easy to make and so addictive it isn't funny. I know Heidi made them using rolos and a pecan on top but since I was bringing them to school I didn't want to use nuts. This is a keeper for sure and a great treat to make as a gift for someone...

Dinner Week of 12/12 - 12/18

I am starting to feel the holiday laziness for cooking dinner...

Sunday - Had take-out because we were out all day
Monday - Spaghetti and Meatballs
Tuesday - Tuna Casserole
Wednesday - Picadillo and Rice
Thursday - Baked Chicken cutlets with pasta and veggies
Friday - Went out for dinner
Saturday - Pizza

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Dinner Week of 12/5-12/11

I forgot to keep track of what I made this week but I think I got most of it...

Sunday - Had a Hanukkah Dinner at Oma's
Monday- I can't Remember
Tuesday - Beef Stew in the slow cooker
Wednesday - Sausage Pasta - I changed things a little bit but this is where I got the idea
Thursday - Sweet & Sour Tofu Stir Fry - I prepared the tofu the same way from this recipe but I made a sweet & sour sauce and added it to some broccoli, scallions, mushrooms and red pepper.
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - At at Ma & Pa's

Randy

Monday, December 6, 2010

Butter-Pecan Kringle

I am amazed on how much nuts cost every year. When I went to buy pecans for my Thanksgiving dessert I realized that I could get almost 3 times as much at my wholesale club then buying them at the supermarket. The only "problem" I was left with was I had a lot of nuts leftover.

Of course I started to search for more pecan dessert recipes to try out. I found this one and the very next day Heidi sent me the recipe as well...well then I just had to make it for the next gathering!





Easiest Butter-Pecan Kringle

www.kingarthurflour.com

Base

  • 1/2 cup butter, cut into pats
  • 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt*
  • 1/4 cup cold water
  • *Reduce salt to 1/4 teaspoon if you use salted butter.

Pastry topping

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt*
  • 1 cup King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon butter rum, eggnog, or vanilla butternut flavor, optional but delicious
  • *Reduce salt to 1/4 teaspoon if you use salted butter.

Pecans and caramel

  • 12 ounces caramel, cut from a block (about 1 cup, packed); or about 3 dozen individual caramel candies*, unwrapped
  • 2 cups pecan halves, toasted in a 350°F oven till golden brown
  • *Use fresh, soft caramels. If using harder, supermarket-type caramels, add a couple of tablespoons milk or cream when melting, to keep them soft on the kringle; or substitute caramel sauce.

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners' or glazing sugar
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream, half and half, or milk, enough to make a thick but pourable glaze
  • 1/8 teaspoon butter rum, eggnog, or vanilla butternut flavor, optional but good
  • pinch of salt

Directions

1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) a baking sheet that's at least 18" x 13"; or a 14" round pizza pan.

2) To make the base: Combine the butter, flour, and salt, mixing till crumbly. Add the water, and stir to make a soft, sticky dough.

3) Wet your hands, pick up the dough, and shape it into a 12" x 8" oval ring on the sheet pan; or a 10" ring in the pizza pan. This will be messy going, but just keep wetting your fingers and pushing it into a ring.

4) Once you've made the ring, flatten the dough so it's about 1 1/2" wide; basically, it'll look like a train or NASCAR track.

5) To make the pastry topping: Place the water, butter, and salt in a saucepan, and heat over medium heat till the butter is melted and the mixture is boiling.

6) Transfer to a mixing bowl, and immediately add the flour, beating until the mixture is cohesive and starts to form a ball.

7) Beat in the eggs one at a time, making sure each is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add the flavor at the end, if you're using it.

8) Spread the pastry along the ring, covering it completely; you'll now have a much wider ring, though it won't be completely closed in the center; it should still look like a ring.

9) Bake the kringle for 50 to 60 minutes, till it's a deep golden brown. If you haven't yet toasted your pecans, this is a good opportunity to do so; they'll need about 9 to 11 minutes in the oven. When they're golden, remove them from the oven and cool. When the kringle is done, remove it from the oven, and allow it to cool completely on the pan.

10) To add the pecans and caramel: First, have the pecans all ready beside the pan of kringle; you'll be sprinkling them atop the caramel as soon as you pour it on.

11) Place the caramel in a microwave-safe spouted cup, if you have one; it's not necessary, but makes it easier to pour. Melt the caramel till it's bubbly, remove it from the microwave, stir a few times to smooth out the bubbles, and immediately drizzle it over the kringle. If it stiffens up, reheat briefly in the microwave.

12) Sprinkle pecans atop the caramel, pressing them in gently. Allow the kringle to cool completely.

13) To make the glaze: Stir together the confectioners' sugar, salt, flavor (if you're using it), and enough milk or cream to make a pourable glaze. Drizzle it over the kringle.

14) To serve, cut the kringle in 2" slices. Yield: one large (12" x 16" oval, or 14" round) kringle, about 2 dozen servings.


Review: I am not sure how you make a regular kringle but I did find this one pretty easy and straight forward. There are a few parts to make but really worth the effort. I always love it when a recipe from KAF website is featured on their blog (Bakers Banter) with step by step photos because it always gives me an idea of if I am doing it correct. I used parchment paper on the bottom so it was easier to transfer it to a platter to bring to my Mom's house. I also used the caramel sauce instead of making my own caramel or using store bought caramel. The only problem with this is that the caramel doesn't set and stays in a liquid type form. I did put it in a really cool place which got it to set a little bit but once it got to room temp it was liquid again. The only thing I was worried about with this that it was going to make my Kringle soggy which it did not but next time I will try to use real caramel instead. All in all this was a real crowd pleaser and would be perfect for a brunch. It is a keeper for sure!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pecan Tassies

I was asked to bring a dessert to my cousin's house for Thanksgiving this year. I wanted to do something that was a twist (sort of) on Pecan Pie but wasn't as big as a whole pie. My family loves dessert so I knew that there would be a ton and this recipe would give a little taste...

Pecan Tassie
allrecipes.com

(not my picture I got it from allrecipes.com)


2 cups margarine
4 (3 ounce) packages cream cheese
4 cups all-purpose flour
3 eggs
2 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
3 tablespoons melted butter
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
1 1/2 cups chopped pecans

Directions:

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

2. In a medium bowl, mix together the margarine and cream cheese until well blended. Beat in flour, 1 cup at a time, until the mixture forms a smooth dough. Roll into small balls, and press into the bottoms and sides of tart pans or mini muffin pans.

3. In another bowl, mix together the eggs, brown sugar, butter, vanilla, and salt. Stir in the pecans. Use a spoon to fill each of the crusts 2/3 full with the filling mixture.

4. Bake for 15 to 18 minutes in the preheated oven, until shell is light brown, and the filling has puffed up. Cool, and carefully remove from pans.


Review: I decided to cut the recipe in half because it yields 5 dozen and I really didn't need to bring that many with me and I also only had one mini muffin tin. I highly suggest If you make this recipe having more then one because it takes forever otherwise. I thought they came out great and looked to me like mini pecan pies which is what I was going for....so I am happy :)

Dinner Week of 11/28 - 12/4

This week might be light on meals since we are all under the weather...

Sunday - Thanksgiving leftover sandwiches
Monday - Wanton Soup
Tuesday - nothing (sick)
Wednesday - Chicken Noodle Soup
Thursday - Mike made pasta (I was sick again)
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Tacos

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Dinner Week of 11/21 - 11/27

This is going to be a light week on cooking with the Thanksgiving...not that I am complaining.

Sunday - Baked Ziti with a salad
Monday - Steak and potatoes
Tuesday - Chili and rice
Wednesday - Pizza
Turkey Day - Turkey and all the extra stuff with my side of the family
Friday - Hamburgers and chips
Saturday - Second turkey dinner with my in-laws

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Dinner Week of 11/14 - 11/20

This is what we had for dinner this past week:

Sunday - Ate at Ma & Pa's house
Monday - Tacos
Tuesday - Spaghetti and Meatballs
Wednesday - Leftovers (Split Peas Cuban style)
Thursday - Went out for Dinner
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Went out for dinner

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake

So I was catching up on some of the blogs I follow and came across the recipe for Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake. I was missing our campfire nights and thought that this might fill the void in a way. Also Jacob came home from school that day and they made milk shake that day. So he was all excited about making some at home.

Toasted Marshmallow Milkshake
joythebaker.com
adapted just slightly from Spike Mendelsohn’s recipe

makes two small or one large milkshake

8-10 large marshmallows
3 large scoops vanilla ice cream or a heaping 1-cup of vanilla ice cream
1/2 cup of milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Place marshmallows on skewer and toast until slightly charred over a gas flame. If you don’t have skewers or a gas range, you can toast the marshmallows on a sheet tray in the broiler for 2 or 3 minutes. Keep an eye on the marshmallows as they’re in the oven. They’re liable to burst into marshmallow flames pretty quick. Place on a plate to cool slightly.

In a blender mix together ice cream, milk, vanilla extract and toasted marshmallows. Save one or two toasted marshmallows to top the milkshake(s). Blend well. For a thinner milkshake add more milk. If you’d like it a bit thicker… add more ice cream. Pour into glasses and top with toasted marshmallows. Enjoy on the quick.

Review: I did not use her method for toasting the marshmallows because Mike feared I would burn the house down. I put the marshmallows on a cookie sheet and put it under the broiler for a few minutes. I think this does a lot faster then doing 8-10 over a gas flame and the flavor came out the same...toasted. I liked the way the milkshake tasted but it was SUPER sweet and just a little goes a long way. I am not sure I would make this again just because it was so sweet but maybe next time try making it with chocolate ice cream...sort of like a s'more milkshake...just put a graham cracker garnish and there you go...

Blue M&M face

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Keeping Track of Meals....

I have a problem with meal planning...I do it for a couple of weeks and then I stop doing it. I get upset that I stopped and try to start again. I sometimes just have a hard time thinking ahead. What if I am not in the mood to eat what I planned...or what if I get lazy (or busy). So I think I am going to try and just keep track of what I make this month for dinner and maybe see if that helps me with future planning....

Last night I made:
Sloppy Joes


Monday, November 8, 2010

Margarita Cookies

We just celebrated my husband's grandparents 90th birthday this past weekend. Of course I took this opportunity to try out a recipe I have had on my list forever. I was also missing our Friday Night Fun nights a little bit and this recipe reminded me of it.

I got the recipe from
Smitten Kitchen which you should stop over and look at the step by step pictures. I have to say mine looked just like the pictures (for once) and since my camera is still on it's way out and I packaged up the cookie right away for the party I didn't get any.

Margarita Cookies
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Sabl├ęs au Citron

Makes about 50 cookies

2 sticks (8 ounces; 230 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup (70 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 large egg yolks, at room temperature
Pinch of salt
2 teaspoons tequila
Grated zest of 2 limes
Grate zest of half an orange
2 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour

Coating:
Approximately 1/2 cup clear sanding or other coarse sugar
2 teaspoons flaky Maldon sea salt*

1. Put the butter in the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and beat at medium speed until it is smooth. Add the sifted confectioners’ sugar and beat again until the mixture is smooth and silky. Beat in 1 of the egg yolks, followed by the salt, tequila, grated lime and orange zest. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, beating just until it disappears. It is better to underbeat than overbeat at this point; if the flour isn’t fully incorporated, that’s ok–just blend in whatever remaining flour needs blending with a rubber spatula. Turn the dough out onto a counter, gather it into a ball, and divide it in half. Wrap each piece of dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

2. Working on a smooth surface, form each piece of dough into a log that is about 1 to 1 1/4 inches (2.5 to 3.2 cm) thick. (Get the thickness right, and the length you end up with will be fine.) Wrap the logs in plastic and chill for 2 hours. (The dough can be wrapped airtight and kept refrigerated for up to 3 days or stored in the freezer for up to 1 month.)

3. Position the racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

4. While the oven is preheating, work on the sugar coating: Whisk the remaining egg yolk in a small bowl until it is smooth and liquid enough to use as a glaze. Mix the coarse sugar and flaky salt well and spread the mixture out on a piece of wax paper. Remove the logs of dough from the refrigerator, unwrap them, and brush them lightly with a little egg yolk. Roll the logs in the sugar, pressing the sugar/salt mixture gently to get it to stick if necessary, then, using a sharp slender knife, slice each log into cookies about 1/4 inch (7 mm) thick. [Deb note: To get the sugar/salt mixture to stick better, I moved the log over to a piece of plastic wrap, and in the sort of technique you'd see a sushi chef use to shape a roll, use the plastic to press the sugar in by wrapping it tightly.] (You can make the cookies thicker if you’d like; just bake them longer.) Place the cookies on the lined baking sheets, leaving about 1/2 inch (1.5 cm) space between them.

5. Bake the cookies for 12 to 14 minutes, or until they are set but not browned. (It’s fine if the yolk-brushed edges brown a smidgen.) Transfer the cookies to cooling racks to cool to room temperature.

Keeping: Packed airtight, the cookies will keep for about 5 days at room temperature. Because the sugar coating will melt, these cookies are not suitable for freezing.

* Updated to add that if you should choose to use regular table salt and not Maldon, use less! Much less. Probably half or less. Because Maldon has such volume, the equivalent amount of a finer salt would be much more pungent. Better on the safe side than sorry, right?


Review: Like I said in the post above I really have been missing our Friday night fun nights...and I was hoping this would cure that. I also have had this recipe on my list of things I want to make for a long time. Making the recipe was not bad at all...I did steps one and two one day and continued with the rest the next day. I used kosher salt on the outside and I think that added that real margarita feel to it to have the salty/sweet combo. Everyone at the party seemed to really enjoy the cookies and I think this one might be a keeper...


Monday, September 20, 2010

Holiday Bread

I have to confess that my list of things I want to make is getting longer and longer by the minute. I just keep finding things out there that I want to try and make. So I decided to kill two birds with one stone...make something from my list and make something that goes well with the Jewish holidays...Raisin Challah.

I actually wanted to make a different recipe at first but I only had two eggs left and most called for at least 3 in the recipes. This one did call for 3 but the third one was sort of optional.




Raisin Challah
King Arthur Flour



Dough:
1/2 cup lukewarm water
6 tablespoons vegetable oil

1/4 cup honey

2 large eggs

4 cups All-Purpose Flour

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

5 teaspoons instant yeast

1 1/2 cups golden raisins, packed


Topping:

1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water

2 tablespoons coarse white sparkling sugar
, optional

Directions

1) To make the dough: Combine all of the dough ingredients except the raisins, and mix and knead them, by hand, mixer, or bread machine, until you have a soft, fairly smooth dough.

2) Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 2 hours, or until it's puffy though probably not doubled in bulk.

3) Gently deflate the dough, and knead in the raisins.

4) Lightly grease a 9" round cake pan.

5) Roll the dough into a 30" to 36" rope. If it shrinks back, walk away and leave it alone for 10 minutes, then resume rolling. The longer the rope the more distinct the spiral, but if it isn't exactly 36" long, don't stress; just get as close as you can.

6) Coil the rope into the prepared pan, starting in the center.

7) Cover the challah gently with lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover, and allow it to rise for about 60 to 90 minutes, until it's puffy and pretty much fills the pan.

8) Near the end of the bread's rise, preheat the oven to 375°F.

9) Whisk together the egg and water. Brush the risen dough with the egg mixture. Sprinkle with coarse white sugar, if desired.

10) Bake the bread for 20 minutes, tent it with foil and bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes, until it's a deep, golden brown, and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center registers 190°F.

11) Remove the bread from the oven, and after a minute or so carefully transfer it to a rack. Cool the bread to lukewarm before cutting it.

The suggested glaze, made with a whole egg and water, makes the bread's crust deep-brown and shiny. for a lighter brown (but still shiny) crust, use a glaze made of egg white and water. For a lighter-brown, matte crust, dispense with the glaze altogether.



Review: I used my bread machine and left it in there for the two hour first rise. It was almost too big for that but I didn't have a problem in the end. I felt like I didn't knead the raisins in right but I got them into the dough. It was also really hard to roll into the 30" - 36" rope and you needed to let it sit for 10 minutes so it was easier to work with. I liked the taste of this bread and I think I would make it again. To me it seemed like it would be the perfect bread to make french toast with if there were any leftovers....


Monday, September 6, 2010

Easy Appetizer - Olive Puffs

I have to say our Friday night fun nights have generated a lot of experimenting for me with appetizer type recipes. This one came about because I was trying to make Samosas and bought the wrong dough. The recipe calls for phyllo dough and I bought puff pastry.

I had to find something to do with the puff pastry dough because even though I had it in the freezer and it would have kept for a while it was calling my name. The other thing I couldn't get off my mind was that olive appetizer from our anniversary dinner at
Amici's. So my search was on for something to make with olives.

This is the one I found which hopefully would have satisfy my olive craving and a bonus it also would use up my puff pastry dough.

Olive Puffs

allrecipe.com

24 pimento stuffed green olives
1 package puff pastry dough, defrosted

1) Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

2) Cut pastry into strips about 6 inches long and 1/2 inch wide. Wrap a belt of pastry around each olive. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.

3) Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Review: It can't get any easier then 2 ingredients if you ask me. Also I made then a little bit ahead of time, put them in the refrigerator and baked closer to serving time. I recommend you letting them cool off a little bit before serving them. The olives in the were supper hot just out of the oven and once cooled down it was easier to eat. Next time I make these I make splurge and buy the Gorgonzola stuff olives I saw at the supermarket olive bar and use those which might make them more like the olive appetizer I was craving. This one is a keeper!

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Orange You Glad You Came...

I saw this on a post about a month ago and it has been in my mind ever since...Campfire Orange Cakes! I just thought this would be something fun to do while we sit around the fire pit with the neighbors. If anything it would be a conversation piece and a bonus of eating yummy cake at the end. I did not take any pictures of my process because if you go over to ljcfyi's blog she has detailed pictures. Also I prepared them ahead of time and was in a rush to get other stuff done.

I did find a little trick (of course at the end) on how to scoop out the insides. It is sort of hard to explain but you basically try to get your finger in between the skin and the "meat"....I will have to take pictures the next time I do this.

Review: I found this to be a fun idea and I think everyone enjoyed it as well. I think the hardest and most time consuming part of this recipe is taking the "meat" out of the oranges. I only bought 4 oranges and had probably enough cake batter left for at least 4 more oranges. I think the reason for that is I couldn't find those huge oranges that you sometimes find out there. I now find myself thinking about what else I could use in place but so far the only thing I thought of is a grapefruit. I think my next campfire cooking adventure might be the banana boats.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake

This always happens to me...I am searching for a recipe (this time it was for an Oreo type cookie) and come across at least a few others I want to try. I file them into my folder of recipes I want to try and usually don't get to them. This time I was determined not to let that happen again because I found a recipe that made my heart jump a couple of beats....

Brownie Mosaic Cheesecake.

You have to check out the page on where I found it because it has really nice pictures and the full recipe there. I took a couple of pictures of my cheesecake just out of the oven and once I put the ganache onto it.

Just out of the oven
With the ganache onto....yummy!

Review: For the most part this was an easy recipe to make but it is just time consuming because of all the part. I made the brownie part of it Thursday night and put it in the refrigerator. Friday I made the rest of the cheesecake parts. No part was really that complicated in fact my neighbor told me the brownies were the best brownies she ever had (Baker's One Bowl Brownie)...I brought over the extras for our Friday night get together. I don't think there is anything I would do different because it tasted really good as is and I think everyone at the party liked it. The ganache part was perfect because as you can see from my out of the oven picture I got a few cracks that those were covered right up by the ganache. The ganache recipe also makes just the perfect amount to go on top. Heidi wants me to make it bring to my Mom's house for the holidays coming up...so I think this one is a keeper!

Friday, August 20, 2010

The Next Day

I just found a better picture of the Zeppole dessert on my camera that I took while eating them for breakfast with a nice cup of coffee....



Monday, August 16, 2010

Restaurant Review: Amici's in Poughkeepsie

Mike and I celebrated our 9 year wedding anniversary last week. We were lucky enough to have my in-laws watch the kids so we can go out for a nice dinner. We live in the Hudson Valley area which has a lot wonderful restaurants to try out. It is really hard to top last years celebration of lunch at the CIA and a winery visit.

So I asked my neighbor for suggestions. She first asked me if I liked olives (YES) and then told me about an appetizer the restaurants has...to be honest I was already sold on going there for dinner. Then she told me about a dessert they have...cannoli creamed filled zeppoles...OK if I wasn't sold before I was definitely sold now.

Amici's Restaurant

For appetizer we had:


Fried Gorgonzola Stuffed Olives with Vermouth Aioli* Queen olives stuffed with creamy gorgonzola, rolled in fresh bread crumbs and lightly fried



Flash Fried Calamari with Two Sauces Fresh squid, dusted and fried, served with spicy marinara and creamy garlic horseradish dip

For Entrees we had:

Pork Shank “Osso Bucco” Slow cooked and matched with Ricotta Polenta and seasonal vegetables with red wine braising sauce.


I had a special called Unwrapped scallops with bacon that was served with pencil thin asparagus.

For Dessert we shared a plate full of Cannoli Cream stuffed Zeppoles. They were NOT on the menu but I had to ask about them since they were one of the reason we picked this place. The waitress talked to the chef and he said he would make them.

(The best picture I could get)


Review: I am in love with this place now because the food was SO good and the location is awesome. It is just about two blocks from the Hudson River which was nice for a pre-meal walk. We tried a new bottle of wine (totally forget the name) which was super yummy! The olive appetizer was hands down one of the best things I have ever eaten in my life...then came dessert and Mike said that was THE best dessert he has ever had in his life. It was really to die for and I can't get it out of my mind. I need to lose about 15 lbs before I can go back there and have it again!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Friday Night Cocktails and Fire Pit!

So this summer we have started a little thing called Friday Night Cocktail night with our neighbors. We get the fire pit going and start pouring the drinks.



This last Friday Nights featured drink were Pomegranate Margaritas using the POM Wonderful juice I received.

Pomegranate Margaritas


1 3/4 cups chilled Pomegranate juice

Kosher salt

1 1/2 cups silver Tequila

1 cup Triple Sec

2/3 cup fresh lime juice

Ice cubes

8 lime wedges, for garnish

Directions:

Pour 1/4 cup of pomegranate juice in a saucer and dip rims of glasses. Then dip moistened rims of glasses in kosher salt. Stir the remaining 1 ½ cups of pomegranate juice, the tequila, triple sec and lime juice. Working in batches, shake the mixture in a large ice-filled shaker, then strain into the glasses. Garnish each margarita with a lime.


Review: OH MY wow this drink really knocks you on your butt...in a good way of course. It was super yummy and something I would make again. I did not use the salt because we drink out of plastic cups and there was no need to be fancy. I also used Cointreau instead of the triple sec because that is what I had in the house. It is a strong drink but I don't think I used enough ice and just realized that 3 of us drank it when it serves 8. Lets just say that we all had a really good time...

Pine! Pine! Pine!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

POM Wonderful

I was contacted by someone at POM Wonderful to see if I was interested in trying out some of their product. So of course my answer was YES!!! I mean who wouldn't want something for free and who wouldn't want something yummy like pomegranate juice. Let me tell you the ideas have just been flowing...

So I waited patiently (only about a week) for my case to arrive.





Since I received a case of 8 x 8oz bottles I am going to try and do at least a few different things with it. So of course that night with dinner we all shared a bottle of just straight up POM juice. I have always seen the bottle in the supermarket but never really thought about buying it before. For some odd reason I thought it would taste different from what you taste when you eat a fresh pomegranate but it did not.

Mike was making fun of me because he wanted to know why it was called POM Wonderful. Thank you to the internet and company websites I was able to just look it on and let him know:


The "Wonderful" actually refers to the variety of pomegranates we grow in our California orchards. All of the fresh pomegranates we sell are of the Wonderful variety as is the juice we press at our own facility
.


Taken from
POM Wonderful … More Than Just a Name article.

My Review: The juice it super yummy and taste really fresh to me. It is on the tart side and reminds me of cranberry juice. I have to say I love the shape of the bottles which I know has nothing to do with the taste but makes me happy.


Check back soon for some recipe I try out using POM Wonderful juice!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Empty Jars...Pet Peeve!

One of my pet peeves is when I go into the refrigerator and I found an empty jar. This picture make it look like there is more peanut butter in there then there really was...


Thursday, July 29, 2010

Tres Leches Cake

We had our 2nd annual family bbq/baseball game a couple of weeks ago which was a lot of fun. It was just after my sister-in-law's birthday...so of course I had to make her a birthday cake. She really isn't the traditional type and I had to come up with something special for her.

Then it hit me in the car driving some where...Tres Leches Cake. In May we went to see her graduate from Grad school and she took us to a place that served Tres Leches cake which she said she really loved. I know there is a bakery near me that supposedly makes a really good one but I wanted to try making it myself.


I did not get a picture of what I made because my camera and because it was gone in minutes. I am always looking for an excuse to make something from The Pioneer Woman's website...there you can see step by step pictures with instructions on how to make this super yummy cake!



(This is not my picture)

Tres Leches Cake

The Pioneer Woman


1 cup All-purpose Flour

1-½ teaspoon Baking Powder

¼ teaspoons Salt

5 whole Eggs

1 cup Sugar, Divided

1 teaspoon Vanilla

⅓ cups Milk

1 can Evaporated Milk

1 can Sweetened, Condensed Milk

¼ cups Heavy Cream


FOR THE ICING:

1 pint Heavy Cream, For Whipping

3 Tablespoons Sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 9 x 13 inch pan liberally until coated.

Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Separate eggs.

Beat egg yolks with 3/4 cup sugar on high speed until yolks are pale yellow. Stir in milk and vanilla. Pour egg yolk mixture over the flour mixture and stir very gently until combined.

Beat egg whites on high speed until soft peaks form. With the mixer on, pour in remaining 1/4 cup sugar and beat until egg whites are stiff but not dry.

Fold egg white mixture into the batter very gently until just combined. Pour into prepared pan and spread to even out the surface.

Bake for 35 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Turn cake out onto a rimmed platter and allow to cool.

Combine condensed milk, evaporated milk, and heavy cream in a small pitcher. When cake is cool, pierce the surface with a fork several times. Slowly drizzle all but about 1 cup of the milk mixture—try to get as much around the edges of the cake as you can.

Allow the cake to absorb the milk mixture for 30 minutes. To ice the cake, whip 1 pint heavy cream with 3 tablespoons of sugar until thick and spreadable.
Spread over the surface of the cake. Decorate cake with whole or chopped maraschino cherries. Cut into squares and serve.

Review: THIS IS A KEEPER for sure. There was a small amount leftover and everyone was fighting for it the next day. I think this cake was super easy to make because I made it the morning before everyone came and didn't feel stressed about it at all. Instead of the cherries I used some fresh strawberries and blueberries which added a nice fresh taste to it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

May The Force Be With You...

I am one of those people when I get a gift card it either takes me a minute to spend it all or forever to spend it all. Ok the taking forever to spend really doesn't happen to me that often but every once in a while it does. I got one from Williams-Sonoma two years ago and I just finished this week. I guess I was just waiting to see if there was anything I really wanted before I spent it on another spatula. Then I saw the Star Wars cookie cutters that are exclusively William - Sonoma...just what I was waiting for.

My 4 year old is all about Star Wars...the movies, the games, the toys and even the clothes. So when I showed this to him that was it...his eyes got huge and I know I had to get it. The next morning he was already asking for Darth Vader cookies.


I made the recipe that came with the cookie cutters because I figured it would give me a good idea of the dough that would work best with the cutters.




Star Wars Cookies
Williams-Sonoma


2 1/2 cups (390 g)All-Purpose Flour

1/2 tsp salt

12 Tbs (1 1/2 sticks/185g) Unsalted Butter

1 cup (250 g) Sugar

1 Egg

1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract


Have all the ingredients at room temperature.


Over a small bowl, sift together the flour and salt. Set aside.


In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the flat beater, beat the butter on hight speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium, slowly add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes, stopping the mixter occasionally to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, stopping once to scrape down the sides of the bowl.


Stop the mixer and add half of the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until most of the flour has been absorbed, about 1 minute. Add the remaining flour and continue beating until all the flour has been absorbed and the dough starts to pull away from the sides of the bowl, 2 to 3 minutes.


Turn the dough out onto a work surface and divide into 2 equal balls. Shape each into a disk and wrap separately in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.


Remove the dough from the refrigerator and let stand for 5 minutes. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough 3/16 to 1/4 inch ( 4.5 to 6mm) thick.


Preheat an oven to 350. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.


Using the cookie cutters, cut out the desired shapes. If the dough sticks to the cutter, dip the cutter into flour before cutting out more shapes. Using a small offset spatula, transfer the cookies to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about 1 inch apart.


Bake the cookies until golden brown around the edges, 10 to 15 minutes. If baking more than one sheet at a time, rotate the baking sheets from top to bottom and 180 degrees halfway through baking.


Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the racks and let cool completely. Decorate as desired. Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days. Makes about 8 of each cookie.




Review: I have another recipe for rolled cookies which I haven't made in really long time but this one I think is a keeper as well. It was nice to work with and has a great taste. Next time I might try to use some almond extract instead of or a combo of both vanilla and almond.

I have been following another blog called
University of Cookie because it is one of my goals to make cookies like the ones on that blog. Well there is a post on there called Rolling Cookie Dough: a video tutorial. I watched it a couple of times and did what she said...and it worked for me!! The one thing I hated most about making cut out cookies was the rolling out of the dough because mine always cracked and just didn't work well for me. Well no more because of that post and I am actually excited to make more.

One idea I am throwing around is making sandwiches with the Star Wars cookie cutters...chocolate/vanilla middle for Darth (my husband thinks that is fitting since he was good on the instead which is what the vanilla would represent), I think a minty green flavor combo for Yoda and not sure about the other two but I am sure I can come up with something.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I Am Back

I know it has been a very long time since my last post and that is for a couple of reasons. One as I mentioned before my camera is on it's way out so I haven't been taking many pictures. The other reason I have been sort of out of the kitchen. It has been so hot around here lately that the thought of cooking makes me sweat. I have come to terms with both and decided it is time to get back into the kitchen and create some wonderful stuff.

A preview to what is coming up next:

Friday, June 11, 2010

Need a Change

I am thinking about doing a little updating on the way this blog looks. I new banner picture maybe or even using a new template. Just wondering if you have any suggestions out there?



Sunday, June 6, 2010

Lemon Cookies

I volunteered to make a dessert for Karen's bridal shower and decided on making some cookies. My first choice was going to be the chocolate mint chip cookies I made a while back but since Kath was making her super yummy brownies I wanted something that wasn't chocolate.

I decided on making two different things...my
biscotti and Lemon Cake Cookies. Someone I worked with gave me a REALLY good recipe for the lemon cake cookies but I didn't have the time to make that version. The reason why I did not have the time is because I need to bake after the kids go to sleep. I am not sure if any of you have this problem but I can't really bake with my kids around. The reason being is because Jacob will ask me every 5 minutes...is it ready...can I have some...what are you making...can I have some...is it ready and this will go on the whole entire time.

Easy Lemon Cookies

allrecipes.com


1 (18.25 ounce) package lemon cake mix

2 eggs

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon lemon extract

1/3 cup confectioners' sugar for decoration



1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

2) Pour cake mix into a large bowl. Stir in eggs, oil, and lemon extract until well blended. Drop teaspoonfuls of dough into a bowl of confectioners' sugar. Roll them around until they're lightly covered. Once sugared, put them on an ungreased cookie sheet.




3)Bake for 6 to 9 minutes in the preheated oven. The bottoms will be light brown, and the insides chewy.



Review: I really did not know what the expect from these cookies but I was pleasantly surprised. They came out great and really something that is easy to make...5 ingredients and you don't have to break out your mixer! If you go on allrecipe.com and look at their pictures the cookies have more sugar on them. I am not really sure why my sugar disappeared. I might try rolling them in coarse or granulated sugar the next time I make these cookies. This one is a keeper for sure!

Friday, June 4, 2010

DIY Frozen Coffee Drink

Not sure if I have mentioned this before but one of the things I want to do this summer is figure out how to make really good iced coffee at home. I know it isn't really that much money to go out and get some but after a while it does add up. So in my search of ideas on how to achieve my ice coffee I came across a frozen type recipe as well...so of course I had to try it out.




Frozen Coffee Drink

Savory Sweet Life

1.5 cups of crushed iced

2-1 ounce shots of espresso *read below using coffee as a substitute

3/4 cup of milk

3 tbl. of sugar (more or less depending on preference)

*If you don’t have an espresso machine, use 3/4 cup of double strength (strong) coffee mixed with 1/2 cup of milk and increased crushed iced amount by 1/4 cup.

Blend all the ingredients except the whipped cream in a blender for 30-45 seconds. Pour into a tall glass and top off with whipped cream and garnish with chocolate syrup. Best served with a straw. Enjoy!


Review: OH MY GOODNESS!!! I have been making some double strength coffee in the morning so I can have iced coffee in the afternoons (one thing I have learned from reading all the recipes for iced coffee). I decided that yesterday I would try this recipe out instead of just having iced coffee. It came out perfect the first time I made it which was a relief since I tried a different one a couple of weeks ago and it was horrible. I really think the success was due to having the ice crushed before you put it in the blender or before you add the rest of the stuff. I can't wait to try it flavored next time.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

I Picked Chocolate Cake...

It is no secret that I LOVE chocolate cake very much. Last week in Jacob's school they read the book A Very Hungry Caterpillar and so that was the theme for the week. The teachers asked the parents to volunteer and bring in one of the foods that the hungry caterpillar ate...so of course I picked the chocolate cake.

I know I was putting way to much thought into this because a 4 year old doesn't care what the cake looks like...you have them at cake. I just wanted to put a little extra effort into this "project" and make it look similar to the one in the book. Lucky for me we actually own the book so I looked at the picture...

Picture from the book (I can't get it to rotate)
When I saw the picture I thought it was more complicated then I remembered it to be I thought it was more like a regular chocolate layer cake. This looked like something with moose and fudge and something fluffy...too much for little kids.

I knew simple was better for the kids and decided to make chocolate cake (KAF Devil's Food) with a 7 minute frosting on top. I bought chocolate sprinkles but didn't end up using them because I had to cut off some of the cake to put it into a disposable pan. I created the crumbs from that on top and them put a cherry on each slice...

I thought it came out great and even the teachers commented to me that it looks like the one from the book...Mission accomplished!

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