December 22, 2009

TWD- Puff Pastry Pecan Pie (my 200th post)

{printable recipe here}

Christmas is here. We are overloaded with goodies, enjoying the perfect Arizona "winter", and loving the excitement our little man has for "Chissmas tine" (as he says it!) This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe sounded delicious, especially since I tried pecan pie for the first time last week and loved it (you can find the original recipe at Beth's blog). That's right, I'd never tried it before. Sometime I decided I didn't like it and so I've never eaten it, heading instead for the apple or berry pies. But Pecan Pie has been redeemed for my palate, not unlike guacamole which was a smash hit when I finally tried it when I was about 18.

With all the Christmas craziness, though, I didn't have time to make a pie crust. So I rolled out a piece of puff pastry, trimmed the edges, glued the strips on to make a little wall, and crisped it in the oven for a few. Meanwhile, I prepped half the filling, added a little flour, and cooked it until it boiled on the stove. Then I stirred in the egg and vanilla, poured the sauce into the shell, and sprinkled it with nuts. The good news is that the whole thing only takes a few minutes to make, even with two crazy kids in the kitchen. ANYONE can make this, really! And while this isn't exactly a traditional pecan pie, you can't really go wrong with butter, nuts, and brown sugar. Then go ahead and top it with whipped cream. Like Ina would say, "How bad can that be?" And while I'm glad to know I actually love pecan pie, I guess my "skinny jeans goals" should just be grateful it took me a while to figure that out!

PS This is indeed my 200th post (so you get a picture of my little man and baby strawberry!). I guess the picture is pretty fitting since she's the most delicious thing I've made since I started this blog. You can click here to see some of my favorite recipes so far- and admist many buttery, delicious treats there are even a few salads (promise!). Thanks for reading along and have a very Merry Christmas!

Puff Pastry Pecan Pie
{printable recipe here}
from Anne Strawberry
adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
3/8 cup light corn syrup
1/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons flour
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup pecan halves or pieces

Preheat the oven to 350.

Flour a board and roll out the puff pastry to about 11 by 11. Trim a 1 inch strip off each side. Place large sheet on a lined baking sheet.

Whip one egg with 1 teaspoon of water. Using a pastry brush, apply the egg wash to the borders of the puff pastry and gently place the strips on top to adhere them (forming a frame). Dock the center of the pastry with a fork, using the tines to prick all over the dough every 1/4 inch or so. Brush the top of the edges with the egg wash to promote browning. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

In a medium saucepan, combine the syrup, brown sugar, butter, flour, and salt. Whisk over medium heat until the mixture boils then set aside for a few minutes. Then, while whisking, slowly pour in the egg wash and the other egg. Whisk in the vanilla until everything is thoroughly combined. Carefully spoon sauce over the pastry shell, filling the created cavity. Sprinkle with nuts and bake for 10 more minutes, or until the pastry is browned and the filling it set.

Cut and serve with whipped cream or ice cream.

December 16, 2009

Brown Sugar Raspberry Blondies (and the winner!)

{printable recipe}

Slacker, slacker, slacker. Between working on getting the laundry folded before it's time to wash again and Christmas fun, I've pretty much totally neglected my blog. I do have fun news though. First, I have a winner for my Lemon Tart Giveaway- it's Megan! Thank you so much to the author, Josi Kilpack, for donating the book and for everyone's great reading suggestions. Hopefully my Baby Strawberry and Little Man will be on the same nap schedule soon and I'll start reading things besides cookbooks and emails again, haha.

I also received a nice but very frustrated email from someone who wants my recipes to be printable. So, in honor of my 200th post coming up next (and yet to be planned, ahem) I'm going to try to start including a printable recipe with the posts, following Aggie's wonderful instructions. Don't tell my husband I'll be taking one extra step, he already thinks I spend too much time as Anne Strawberry, instead of Anne Wife (but I think the roles go together, right?)! Maybe sometime I'll go back and add links in (which I did with my Orange Rolls). Let me know how they work out for you guys. I do love the feedback people give, especially when a recipe worked out for them.

Okay enough business- I feel like I just held a meeting or something. On to some brown sugar laden goodies I made specifically for my Tall Man with more of the delicious sugar from C&H. This recipe comes from their site and I modified it to include raspberries (since I had those in the freezer). It's a winner, especially for the non-chocolate eaters out there. It's not such a wonderful time of year to have to skip out on chocolate but eating these will help you forget that! That said, a dark or white chocolate drizzle would be amazing on these...

Brown Sugar Raspberry Blondies
recipe adapted from C&H Sugar

{printable recipe}

1 1/3 Cups Flour
1 1/3 Cups C&H Brown Sugar
1 tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup frozen raspberries
½ cup chopped pecans

Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Grease and flour small rectangular baking dish (line the pan with foil for easy removal and cutting later. If you want these gooier use a small square pan, but next time I'll keep them a little thinner for even baking).

Combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, oil, eggs and vanilla; mix on low speed of electric mixer until blended. Mix 1 minute on medium speed. Batter will be thick. Spread half of batter in pan. Toss raspberries in small amount of flour. Scatter berries over batter; spread remaining batter on top (gently!). Sprinkle with pecans. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until tester comes out clean. Cool on rack and cut into 16 pieces. Chocolate Chip Variation: Sprinkle ½ cup chocolate chips over batter with pecans.

December 8, 2009

Sables (easy, delicious butter cookies)

I've always loved those butter cookies in the blue tin that you find around Christmas. I haven't, however, had much luck with shortbread in my hot kitchen. So when I read this recipe, I decided to go for it but wasn't expecting much. That said, I was so WOWED by these cookies! They were quick, easy, Christmas-y, delicious, buttery... pretty much everything you want in a holiday cookie. I made the original version but can't wait to try the orange and lemon flavors. And then the pecan version for my mom. Use a light hand and don't over think these- Dorie's directions are clear and simple and will get you a great result from a few simple, delicious ingredients. I love that.

This is one that will be on regular repeat in my kitchen (and since I know you'll love it and NYT already printed it, I'm including the recipe). This is the best slice and bake cookie I've ever made and I'm making them again soon. Thanks to Bungalow Barbara for an amazing choice- just in time for Christmas cookies. I probably never would have made this if not for TWD and I'm glad I did. My only regret is that I gave the rest away and now I will be looking at pictures of these all day without any to try!

Don't forget to enter my special Lemon Tart Giveaway!

Dorie Greenspan's Master Recipe for Sables
(use a Silpat for these cookies! And if you don't have one... Christmas is coming and they are cheap on ebay! Mine were cheaper when I bought two, which you'll want!)

from the NYT

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted before measuring
1/2 teaspoon salt, preferably sea salt
2 large egg yolks, preferably at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour

For the decoration:
1 egg yolk
Crystal sugar

Working in a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until it is smooth and very creamy. Add the sugars and salt and continue to beat until smooth and velvety, not fluffy and airy, about 1 minute. Reduce the mixer speed to low and beat in 2 egg yolks, again beating until well blended.

Turn off the mixer, pour in the flour, drape a kitchen towel over the mixer and pulse the mixer about 5 times at low speed for 1 or 2 seconds each time. Take a peek; if there is still a lot of flour on the surface of the dough, pulse a couple of more times; if not, remove the towel. Continuing at low speed, stir for about 30 seconds more, just until the flour disappears into the dough and the dough looks uniformly moist. If you still have some flour on the bottom of the bowl, stop mixing and use a rubber spatula to work the rest of it into the dough. (The dough will not come together in a ball -- and it shouldn't. You want to work the dough as little as possible. What you're aiming for is a soft, moist, clumpy dough. When pinched, it should feel a little like Play-Doh.)

Scrape the dough onto a work surface, gather it into a ball and divide it in half. Shape each piece into a smooth log about 9 inches long (it's easiest to work on a piece of plastic wrap and use the plastic to help form the log). Wrap the logs well and chill them for at least 2 hours. The dough may be kept in the refrigerator for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 2 months.

When ready to bake, center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper and keep it at the ready.

To decorate the edges of the sables, whisk the egg yolk until smooth. Place one log of chilled dough on a piece of waxed paper and brush it with yolk (the glue), and then sprinkle the entire surface of the log with sugar. Trim the ends of the roll if they are ragged and slice the log into 1/3-inch-thick cookies.

Place the rounds on the baking sheet, leaving an inch of space between each cookie, and bake for 17 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet at the halfway point. When properly baked, the cookies will be light brown on the bottom, lightly golden around the edges and pale on top. Let the cookies rest 1 or 2 minutes before carefully lifting them onto a cooling rack with a wide metal spatula. Repeat with the remaining log of dough. (Make sure the sheet is cool before baking each batch.)

Lemon Sables- Before mixing the butter and sugar together, pour the sugar in a bowl with the grated zest of 1 to 1 1/2 lemons. Work the zest and sugar together with your fingertips until the mixture is moist and aromatic, then cream it with the butter in the mixer.

Parmesan Sables- Replace sugars with 3/4 cup very finely grated Parmesan added to the beaten butter. A few grains of fleur de sel may be gently pressed into the top of each sable before the baking sheet is slipped into the oven.

December 5, 2009

Lemon Tart Giveaway

Recently I heard about the book Lemon Tart- a culinary mystery. I couldn't get over the "culinary mystery" part so I decided to check it out. This book centers around a homemaker who loves to bake and includes the recipes along the way. I loved reading it and couldn't wait to try a recipe- so of course, I made the lemon tart. It was simple enough that I could make it with Little Man's help and Baby Strawberry in my arms. That's the kind of recipe I prefer these days. So really, anyone can make it. You could even sub out a graham crust if you don't want to bother with the pastry.

C&H also sent me some money to buy some of their sugar (which I did, in bulk, at Costco. I'm not the only one that buys the 30 pound bag and fills a huge bucket in the pantry, right? Right? Well, I know my mom does too, so I don't feel too bad). I used the granulated sugar in the tart and the powdered sugar in the crust and whipped cream. My husband loves to eat the C&H dark brown sugar right out of the bag. Don't let him know I told you that. They also have a huge selection of holiday recipes on their site. I'm going to feature one next week... as soon as I pick which one to try. I'm thinking maybe the egg-free sugar cookie dough for my beautiful (allergic to eggs) niece Carlee or the peanut butter topped toffee bars for my Tall Man. He's going to get hungry after he finishes off that bag of brown sugar (fortunately I have several back ups, he's lucky to be married to a stockpiler!) Either way, check back next week. It's going to be delicious.

You can read the first chapter here and see the recipes she has included. There is also a nice interview here about the book and how she came up with the ideas. I also contacted the author and she agreed to giveaway a copy of the book to one of my readers. Leave a comment letting me know the best book you've read lately. And don't forget to check out Lemon Tart and the next in the series, English Trifle for a fun and refreshing read. You can find out more about Josi Kilpack at her blog or site. Thanks Josi for the fun giveaway!

Here's a culinary mystery for you... who swiped a lick of that cream? I'll give you one guess...

Lemon Tart
adapted from the book "Lemon Tart" by Josi Kilpack

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup C&H powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into smaller pieces
1 egg yolk, beaten with 1 tablespoon cold water (I added this to get my dough to come together)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor or mixer, combine ingredients for crust. Pulse together until a dough starts to form in clumps (then I pulsed in the egg). Press into tart pan, making sure to cover bottom and sides evenly. Pierve the bottom of the crust with a fork and place in freezer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Place tart on a cookie sheet and bake until crust is a golden-brown color, approximately 12 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool.

Filling (I made about double of this, using the whole stick of cream cheese and 3 eggs, since my tart pan was especially deep)

5 ounces cream cheese, softened (I used neufchatel)
1/2 cup C&H granulated cane sugar (I would use another 1/4 cup like she suggests since my Tall Man likes things sweet)
3/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 large eggs
zest from one lemon (get zest from lemon before juicing)

Reduce oven temperature to 350. Mix cream cheese with electric beaters until smooth. Add sugar. Mix until well blended. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly after each egg. Stop and scrape bowl halfway through. Add the lemon juice and zest and mix until smooth.

Pour the filling into the tart crust and bake on cookie sheet for 20 to 30 minutes or until filling is set. Let tart cool on wire cooling rack. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled.

Use whipped cream as an optional topping. It can be piped on in stars or served on top with each piece (I liked lots and lots of top of mine!).

The giveaway will accept entries until next Thursday night, December 10, at midnight AZ time. U.S. addresses only and one entry per person please.

(This giveaway is now closed... thanks for all the entries!)

November 24, 2009

My favorite thanksgiving pie

I keep saying it but it's shocking how fast time has flown since I had my Baby Strawberry. She's getting so big (10 weeks tomorrow and 11 pounds already) and I'm loving every minute. Thanksgiving is here already and that means some serious cooking with the holidays starting. We'll be enjoying a good ham (with some turkey on the side, I'm not the only person who much prefers ham, right?), hot homemade rolls (my assignment), and plenty of pies from the woman who taught me how to crimp a crust- my Aunt CarmaLee. It's going to be wonderful and a holiday I look forward to every year.

If you haven't planned your menu yet, I'd really recommend this beautiful and delicious Apple pie from Dorie Greenspan. I've never been a huge pumpkin fan, except for that sugar and chocolate loaded bread, and will take an apple pie over that any day. Apples are a buck a pound around here right now and you can bet this will be gracing our table. Pile in those apples, don't think about the calories, and enjoy the time of year. There's a lot to be thankful for (especially, for me, the people in my little strawberry patch!)

Don't forget to come back next week for a special giveaway...

All-American All-Delicious Apple Pie
adapted from Dorie Greenspan (and casually typed- buy the book already to enjoy her beautiful writing, photographs, and recipes of course!)

Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough for a double crust, chilled (see instructions below)
4 pounds (about 6 very large) apples - I used a mix of Pink Ladies, Fujis, Granny Smith, and Golden Delicious - whatever looks good and a nice mix of textures and sweetness
3/4 cup sugar
Grated zest of one lemon
2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca or 1 tablespoon Ultra Gel
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
dash of nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs (or dried bread crumbs, unseasoned)
2 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
milk and sugar for the optional glaze

Assembly Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 425. Peel, core and slice the apples. Put the apples into a large bowl and add the sugar, lemon zest, tapioca (I used Ultra gel), cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Toss together and let sit for five minutes.

Remove the pie crust from the fridge and sprinkle the crumbs over the bottom of the crust (to help prevent sogginess) and then turn the apples and the juices into the crust. The apples will heap over the top of the crust. Pat them into an even mound. Dot the apples with the bits of cold butter.

Lightly moisten the rim of the bottom crust with water, place the top crust over the pie, and crimp together after cutting overhang.

Use a sharp knife to cut slits into the top crust. Brush the top crust with a little milk and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.

Bake the pie for 15 minutes (at 425). Reduce the heat to 375 and bake for another 50 to 60 minutes, or until the crust is browned and the juices are bubbling. Check on the pie after a half an hour or so to make sure it’s not browning too quickly (use a foil tent in that case).
Transfer the pie to a cooling rack and let it rest until just warm. Serve with ice cream.

Good for Almost Everything Pie Dough
adapted from Dorie Greenspan

3 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into tablespoon-size pieces
3/8 cup very cold (frozen is even better) Crisco (plain, not butter flavored), cut into 4 pieces
About 1/2 cup ice water

Put the flour, sugar and salt in a food processor fitted with a metal blade; pulse just to combine the ingredients. Drop in the butter and shortening and pulse only until the butter and shortening are cut into the flour. Don't overdo the mixing—what you're aiming for is to have pieces the size of fat green peas and others the size of barley.

Pulsing the machine on and off, add 3 tablespoons of the water—add a little water and pulse once; add some more water and pulse again; and keep going that way. Then use a few long pulses to get the water into the flour. If after a dozen or so pulses, the dough doesn't look evenly moistened or form soft curds, pulse in as much of the remaining water, or even a few drops more, to get a dough that will stick together when pinched. If you've got big pieces of butter, that's fine. The dough is ready and should be scraped out of the work bowl and on to a smooth work surface. (be careful not too add too much water- if the dough looks dry after adding most of the water, pinch it with your hands to check if it's coming together, and finish combining it by hand)

Shape the dough into a disk and wrap it. Refrigerate the dough at least 1 hour before rolling. The dough can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 1 month.

November 17, 2009

TWD- Cranberry Caramel Apple Crisp with Walnuts

Now that I have two kids I figure it's about time to be a grown up. Part of that entails nuts, since my mom always told me I would like them when I got older. You know how grown ups always opt for the nuts on their sundaes and in their banana bread (blasphemy!)? But I'll be honest... I'm not quite there yet. I love certain nuts but I'd never want nuts in my cookies and heaven forbid they get sprinkled on top of something creamy like pudding and ruin the texture. And cocoNUT? I don't want that in any form (am I the only person who thinks it tastes like sunblock?) However, one thing I've decided actually really benefits from the addition of nuts is any sort of crumb topping, so I added walnuts to topping of this delicious crisp and then threw in some chopped up caramel since I'm really still a kid at heart.

Now in all seriousness, one thing I've learned since I started baking too often is that you should follow your instincts with a recipe. Too often I've thought- I should add some whatever and decided to follow the recipe instead, only to try the final product and wish it had cinnamon or whatever I'd left out. I'm still up for trying new things and techniques but when I saw this recipe I knew it needed orange zest so I added it and it worked out great. The flavor enhanced all the others and was nice and subtle.

I'd also recommend subbing some whole wheat flour in the topping. With all the spice and flavors no one will be the wiser (how's that for grown up!) Don't forget you can easily sub in the fruits or nuts you have on hand or in the freezer- this recipe is good like that. Here's the recipe with my changes. I'm definitely going to make this again! Thanks for the fun choice, Repressed Pastry Chef! See the original there and don't miss the other versions from all the TWD peeps. This really is a delicious and quick recipe- perfect with all the holiday craziness already creeping up.

Cran-Apple Crisps
adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

For the topping
¾ cup whole wheat flour
½ cup (packed) light brown sugar
½ cup old-fashioned oats
¾ cup chopped walnuts
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter cut into 4 pieces

For the filling
5 medium apples, peeled, cored and cut into ¼ inch chunks
1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (if frozen, don’t thaw)
½ cup moist, plump craisins (if you are like me and bought the enormous bag at Costco and they've seen better days, plump them up in some hot water, or orange juice even, before mixing in)
1/2 cup chopped up Peter's caramel (or kraft caramels if you haven't succumbed and bought this yet, but you should!)
2/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon orange zest
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Getting Ready:
Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 375°F. Lightly butter eight ovenproof cups or bowls, each with a capacity of about one cup. Put the cups on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat.

To make the topping:
Put all the ingredients in a food processor and pulse just until the mixture forms big curds, about 1 minute. (You can make the topping up to 3 days ahead and refrigerate it in an airtight bag.)

To make the filling:
Toss all the ingredients together in a large bowl. Divide the fruit evenly among the cups then spoon an equal amount of topping over each portion of fruit. Bake the crisps for 40-45 minutes or until the topping is golden and the fruit juices are bubbling up around it. Transfer the cups to a rack and let them rest for at least 10 minutes before serving. Top with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream for the perfect fall dessert.

November 11, 2009

Meeting the Pioneer Woman (and her Chicken Pot Pie)

Last week my mom and I went to see the Pioneer Woman at her Phoenix book signing. I couldn't believe how many people were crammed into the little book store! Fortunately, we found a seat and enjoyed chatting with some great people while we waited. When she came out the room erupted in applause and that kept happening all night! My daughter was pretty scared by the noise but she must have enjoyed Ree, because she didn't cry once and was cute and smiley and even met her sister, Missy.

Ree answered some fun questions. My favorite came from a little girl who asked, "Do you have elephants?" Ree just said, "No Honey, but I think I need them!" Then someone asked if she minded that everyone was in love with husband. She didn't. Someone else asked how she keeps in such great shape with all the butter in her recipes, she just laughed and said she works at it like the rest of us (I thought in my head, portion control, and working a ranch, come on!) She was really funny and down to earth. After she finished answering questions they called up the A group for signing and said those with little kids could come up too so they could get to bed. I booked it to the front and was the third in line. I thought that was really sweet of her. I was in group L on my ticket and there were 30 for each letter!

(pic from PW- see me there, just barely?)

So now I'm sure you're wondering about my really high quality pictures. I didn't want to bring my big camera since I had my baby strawberry to carry and wanted to pack light. So I meant to ask my mom to bring her purse camera but forgot in all the stress (newborns always want to eat at the most inconvenient times) and so all I had was my cell phone. When Ree was signing my book, I asked the girl behind me to take our picture and it didn't work. By the time I realized it was too late and I was so disappointed. My mom told me to go ask Missy, her sister, if she would take another so I did. Missy held my little cutie and it all worked out.

Ree was really sweet while she signed my book. She asked how old my baby was (seven weeks I said, and this is her first big thing- she hasn't even been to Church yet!). Then she asked if she was my first. I told her about my little boy and she said, "Yeah, I can tell from the way you're holding her over your arm, you aren't too nervous." "I have to chase a toddler all day, I need all the hands I can get I told her!" I think she understood that.

So all in all, the signing was a lot of fun. We at great food at Wildflower Bread Co next door (Butternut Squash salad with Gorgonzola and a Cranberry Balsamic Vinaigrette and Potato soup), enjoyed listening to PW, and got some new material for our upcoming meals. I'll post them as we try them.

Check out her book on Amazon. I love having her great recipes at my finger tips and seeing all the photos of her life that seems so different from mine (minus the butter... we both like to use that!)

I thought I'd make dinner out of here for a while and here is the first recipe- Chicken Pot Pie. It came together in a flash and was flaky and filling. Perfect.

For better directions than I'd ever be able to give (people, I have about 15 minutes a day without a child physically attached right now, I can't take all those process photos and get in a shower) visit Ree.

Notes on the Recipe-

I made one batch and was able to make two "Marie Calendar's" size pot pies (I love those tins- the right size and no worries if you lose one- and my husband brings them home from work all the time, since I don't buy pie!)

Instead of adding the peas with the other veggies, I added them after the filling was all cooked. I think that keeps them greener and prettier and I'm kind of vain like that. I also added extra carrots since I LOVE them. Sorry about the crappy action shot. We were hungry and in a hurry to watch Transformers 2 from Netflix. We should have slowed down and enjoyed the pie, it was better than the movie. Really really.

Lastly, I used my favorite "cooking wine" with a dash of white wine vinegar. In honor of PW, I even took a picture (or asked my mom too, she's a budding food photographer I think, don't you like the shot of the pie with the heart on it?)

More PW woman recipes coming soon! And happy Veteran's Day! Today we're arranging the nursery, eating cinnamon swirl french toast, and enjoying my husband's day off. Hope yours is great, too!

November 10, 2009

TWD- Molasses Crinkle Cookies

Most people don't make these cookies. They don't know what they are. But they love them, which is why this is my mom's signature recipe. Her recipe is a little different- with shortening and cloves. However, I liked Dorie's almost as much (don't tell my mom) because they tasted almost the same- but buttery, too. And we all know I'm with Ina and Paula on team butter, in moderation of course. I'd challenge you to make them, but my mom would say, "If everyone makes them they won't be as special." These are indeed special cookies... and you should make them. If you don't have all spice, use cloves like we do around here. But make them either way.

Notes on the recipe- I didn't squish them quite as much as Dorie said and they still flattened. I think that must be a desert things- my cookies tend to be a little flatter here for some reason. Also, I underbaked them a little since I like them soft and chewy. Yum.

Come back tomorrow to hear about the Pioneer Woman! I went to the book signing in Phoenix and I'm even on this post if you look hard. I'll have one of her recipes up and pictures of my Baby Strawberry at the event. You won't want to miss it!

Recipe- Find it here, on page 77, or on Pamela's wonderful blog. This is one you REALLY need to make. Honest. I might even type it in later when my baby isn't crying... because you'll love these!

*edit- I was going to add the pepper to half the batch and have a blind test to see what everyone preferred, but I totally forgot! Next time! And if you made these, let me know how you liked the pepper...

Dorie's Molasses Crinkles
recipe adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

2 1/3 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice (or cloves)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
1 large egg
1/2 cup sugar, for rolling

Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together the dry team. Working with a stand mixer, preferably fitted with a paddle attachment, or with a hand mixer in a large bowl, beat the butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy. Add the brown sugar and molasses and beat for 2 minutes or so to blend, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the egg and beat for 1 minute more. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients, mixing until the flour and spices disappear. If some flour remains in the bottom of the bowl, to avoid over-beating the dough, mix in the last of the dry ingredients by hand with a rubber spatula. You'll have a smooth, very soft dough. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats. Scoop the dough out and roll in the reserve sugar. Place 12 on each baking sheet and squish slightly with a glass, spatula, or your fingers.

Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 to 14 minutes, or until the tops feel set to the touch. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and, if the cookies have spread and are touching, use the edge of a metal spatula to separate them while they are still hot.

November 5, 2009

Orange Rolls (quick and light... you can do it!)

{printable recipe}

Okay maybe "light" isn't the best word for these rolls, but compared to some I've made and eaten (and certainly enjoyed) these are pretty light. I started with my new favorite cinnamon roll dough and instead of using lemon zest in the dough, I used orange zest. Then after I rolled the dough out I covered it with sugar rubbed with the zest of an orange, a fragrant, delicious mixture. Roll it up, slice, rise, bake. The if you want to go along with the "light" idea top with a thin powdered sugar glaze. Or go for the good stuff with a nice orange cream cheese frosting.

Halloween is over, my friends, and the holidays are here. Are you ready? Soon it will be Christmas and the citrus trees will be heavy with ripe oranges. I'm going to pretend like its already here and make another batch of these. You should too! And really, if my little man can do this, I know you can... your family will thank you!

Orange Rolls
adapted from the Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

{printable recipe}

Yields one big baking sheet worth of rolls (about 12-18 depending on how you slice them- I like a little variation so people can choose a big or small roll- use a bench cutter for neat slices or dental floss in a pinch)

6 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 tablespoons shortening or butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
grated zest of two oranges, divided use
3 1/2 cups bread or all purpose flour (I used King Arthur's bread flour)
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups milk, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar (for filling)

Cream together sugar, salt, and shortening on medium high speed in mixer with paddle attachment. Whip in the egg and one teaspoon of the orange zest until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast, and milk. Mix on low speed until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook and mix for about 10 minutes on medium, or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. Add a little flour or water if necessary to attain this texture.

Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough into it, cover, and let rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Rub together remaining orange zest with 1/2 cup sugar in a small bowl until fragrant.

Lightly flour or oil a counter and roll the dough into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick, or 18 by 9 inches wide. Sprinkle the orange sugar over the dough and roll it up into a log, with the seam down. Slice the log, making the pieces about an inch thick. Place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and let rise until nearly doubled (about an hour in my lovely desert home).

Bake at 350 on the middle rack for 20 to 30 minutes, or until gold brown. Remove from oven, let cool, and glaze with powdered sugar icing or cream cheese icing.

Orange Cream Cheese Frosting
1 block Neufchatel (reduced fat) cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
1 teaspoon orange zest
1/2 bag (1 pound) powdered sugar
Fresh squeezed orange juice (from the zested oranges), as needed (about 1 tablespoon)

Cream the cream cheese, butter, and orange zest until smooth and well combined. With the mixer off, add the powdered sugar. Cover with a clean dish towel and combine on low speed until the sugar is incorporated. Remove towel and increase speed to make a smooth frosting, adding orange juice until desired consistency is reached.

Spread on slightly cooled orange rolls and enjoy!

November 4, 2009

Baby Strawberry

Dear Friends,

I'm sorry my mom has been slacking lately with recipes and stopping by your lovely blogs to say hello, but I've been a bit of a distraction! You can't really blame her, though, because although I don't yet enjoy the types of food she loves to make, I do love my very frequent feedings.

Don't worry, though, because mom is still craving chocolate like crazy and my dad is hungry as usual. There's still food coming out of our kitchen, even if there's less time to make it in!

Baby Strawberry

November 3, 2009

Candy Bar Peanut Butter Cookies

Whew! Halloween was a ton of fun but I'm glad it's over. I'll admit I'm slightly scared by the overly frightening yard decorations and the pounds of candy all the children around me are ingesting, although I love seeing all the kids in their costumes. My son had a ton of fun trick or treating and even though we only did a little bit, we have a scary amount of candy, especially considering my sleep deprived and slightly hormonal postpartum state! Like a good parent I promptly picked through his bucket after he went to bed Saturday and removed the snickers/musketeers/milky ways (for baking) and the tootsie rolls (for me, ahem). He's only two, he didn't even notice.

I'm sure you have a lot of candy lying around, too, which is why I think you should try these sneaky little peanut butter cookies. I use my favorite dough recipe (from my mom's aunt, it's a good one, too) and after I scoop the dough, I flatten it out and put in a 1 inch piece of candy bar, happily pilfered from my son. Then I wrap the dough back up around it, squish it a little, and bake as usual. The end result is WAY better than a regular peanut butter cookie, which I still make for my non chocolate eating tall man.

If you are feeling particularly indulgent, try chocolate dough (like my Paradise Bakery Black and White Chippers Copy Cat recipe) with mint three musketeers or yorks. Oh man. I could probably live on those alone...

Candy Bar Peanut Butter Cookies
from Anne Strawberry

Note- I like my cookies a little bit flatter, so I squished these before and after baking. If you like them a little puffier, look at this post and all the goo-iness. Yum.

1 cup softened butter
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup smooth peanut butter
2 2/3 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoons soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 bag bite size candy bars (or 4 full size bars) - Snickers, Milky Way, Three Musketeers, etc

Preheat oven to 375. Cut candy bars into 1 inch pieces and set aside.

Cream butter and sugar. Add eggs and vanilla and beat until well combined. Mix in peanut butter. Slowly add dry ingredients and mix until just combined.

Scoop dough out, flatten slightly in your palm. Place one piece of candy into the middle and roll in your hand to wrap the chocolate into the middle of the dough. Please on baking sheet, spacing apart generously, and bake from 9-12 minutes until dough has set but before cookies take on too much color. Remove from sheet and allow to cool. Enjoy warm!

October 30, 2009

Caramel Apple Sugar Cookie Cheesecake Bars

I'm having a hard time coming up with a nice concise name for these treats, but you would too. Imagine-

A Golden Graham crust
Topped by a layer of Dorie's Sugar Cookie Dough
Followed by some home made apple pie filling
And they layered with a cream cheese filling
And more cookie dough
Then topped with caramel...
And some pecans for kicks. And because they are good for you, right?

Now come up with a better name for these and I'll make you a treat (if you're local!)

There are a lot of layers to these bad boys and you can make it how you like it- homemade, store bought, add nuts, whatever you'd like. I'd just encourage you to try it because the finished product is yummy and perfect for fall. I cut mine into little pieces and the portion size was just right. And with all those yummy layers, my husband didn't even miss some chocolate. That's a good dessert around here!

Have a happy Halloween and I'll be back soon with a picture of the kiddos in their costumes. Wait until you see what my mom made for my baby girl... she's going to be delicious!

Caramel Apple Sugar Cookie Cheesecake Bars
adapted from Picky Palate

3 Tablespoons melted butter
3 Cups Golden Graham Cereal, ground in food processor

1 Batch of Dorie's Sugar Cookie Dough (or store bought if you are in a hurry)

8 oz softened reduced fat cream cheese
1/4 Cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla

21 oz can apple pie filling (or homemade- I made mine in the microwave and this step only took me 10 minutes start to finish with my handy apple peeler and corer, I think it's worth it!)

1/4 Cup of Peter's Caramel or Kraft Caramels
1/2 Cup half and half

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Pulse cereal in a food processor until smooth then pour in melted butter while pulsing to combine. Press into an 8×8 inch baking dish lined with foil. Bake for 7 minutes then remove from oven. Let cool for 5 minutes.

Crumble half of the cookie dough over partially baked crust.

Place cream cheese, sugar and vanilla into a mixer; beat until smooth. Pour over crumbled cookie dough layer. Top with the apple pie filling.

Carefully spoon over remaining cookie dough, breaking off into little pieces evenly over top.

Bake for 45-50 minutes or until toothpick comes clean from center. Let cool completely then cut into squares (I cut it into a 5 by 5). Melt caramels and half and half according to package directions. Drizzle over each bar. Refrigerate leftovers.

Grandma's All Occasion Sugar Cookie Dough
from Dorie Greenspan- see the full recipe on page 146 here
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons butter, softened
1 cup sugar
1 large egg plus 1 yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla and beat thoroughly. Add in dry ingredients slowly mix until just combined, being careful not to overmix.

Quick Apple Pie Filling-
Note- I reduced this and just used four or five apples that I had on hand, but any of this leftover certainly tastes good enough to out of the bowl or with some ice cream!

About 3 pounds Fuji apples
3 Tablespoons Cornstarch
3/4 Cup Sugar
1 teaspoon Cinnamon
Dash of Nutmeg (optional)
2 Tablespoons Lemon Juice

Peel, core, and slice apples into medium, microwave proof bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and microwave on high for five minutes. Let cool slightly then stir in other ingredients and mash with potato masher until desired consistency is reached.

October 26, 2009

Lasagna Rolls for World Pasta Day

I read that today is world pasta day and since I'd eat pasta everyday for the rest of my life if my husband didn't mind, I figured a quick recipe was in order. This recipe from Giada is customizable and delicious. I was led to it initially because it wasn't smothered in tomato sauce that my tall man couldn't eat. I plated the lasagna rolls on a bed of marinara for everyone else- and I think that really made the dish- but you could leave it out if your husband is like mine! This is a fun variation from the regular sausage and tomato lasagna we normally eat- the prosciutto and spinach are flavorful and delicious... even to my two year old. Happy World Pasta Day!

Lasagna Rolls

from Giada De Laurentis

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
4 teaspoons all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups whole milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
Pinch ground nutmeg

1 (15-ounce) container whole milk ricotta cheese
1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed, squeezed dry
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan
3 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto, chopped
1 large egg, beaten to blend
3/4 teaspoon salt, plus more for salting water
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil
12 uncooked lasagna noodles
2 cups marinara sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella (about 4 ounces)

To make the sauce: Melt the butter in a heavy medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Add the flour and whisk for 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk. Increase the heat to medium-high. Whisk the sauce until it comes to a simmer and is thick and smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk the salt, pepper, and nutmeg into the bechamel sauce.

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Whisk the ricotta, spinach, 1 cup Parmesan, prosciutto, egg, salt, and pepper in a medium bowl to blend.

Add a tablespoon or 2 of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water. Boil the noodles until just tender but still firm to bite. Drain. Arrange the noodles in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking.

Butter a 13-by-9-by-2-inch glass baking dish. Pour the bechamel sauce over the bottom of the prepared dish. Lay out 4 lasagna noodles on a work surface, then spread about 3 tablespoons of ricotta mixture evenly over each noodle. Starting at 1 end, roll each noodle like a jelly roll. Lay the lasagna rolls seam side down, without touching, atop the b├ęchamel sauce in the dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and ricotta mixture. Spoon 1 cup of marinara sauce over the lasagna rolls. Sprinkle the mozzarella and remaining 2 tablespoons of Parmesan over the lasagna rolls. Cover tightly with foil. Bake until heated through and the sauce bubbles, about 20 minutes.

Uncover and bake until the cheese on top becomes golden, about 15 minutes longer. Let stand for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, heat the remaining marinara sauce in a heavy small saucepan over medium heat until hot, and serve alongside.

October 13, 2009

Allspice Crumb Muffins

I love muffins and will take them over cupcakes any day (which is funny since I love frosting and that's often all that separates the two). I've made this recipe before without Allspice and called them "Snickerdoodle Muffins" for my Snickerdoodle-loving brother. I'd never tried Allspice before but really liked the flavor of these muffins (it reminded me of cloves), especially with the subtle, clean taste from the lemon zest. I guess it goes without saying that my son LOVED these muffins since he couldn't hardly keep hands off them (and now you can see that tried to use my rug as a back drop, my apologies). You can find the recipe here, on page 16, or at Kayte's blog.

I'd suggest making half the crumb topping, not overfilling the muffin tins, which you should well grease (I should have made 15 or so instead of 12), and using cinnamon or nutmeg if you are scared of the allspice. Really though, I'd spring for a new jar next time you're at the store. And if you're feeling sneaky- sub half the flour for whole wheat flour and with the spice coloring the muffins, your husband will be none the wiser. See the other (surely more beautiful) versions at the Tuesdays with Dorie site.

I also have the giveaway winner to announce. Congrats Liz (I want the recipe for your vanilla cream, by the way) and thanks to everyone for their yummy snack suggestions. I'm going to try to implement some of them because as much as I wish muffins and pudding were the perfect snack, they aren't going to get me into my skinny jeans any time soon! And you all know that isn't going to stop me from making them both, haha!

October 6, 2009

Split Level Pudding and a giveaway!

Pudding is one of my all time favorite desserts (or breakfasts for that matter) so I was beyond happy when my baby consented to nap while I whipped up this quick treat. I'll admit I used to wonder what the point was in making pudding when the boxed stuff tastes so good. I really do still like Jello Vanilla Pudding. I've become a believer, though. It's also pretty simple to make this delicious pastry cream and gets quicker and easier every time. I skipped the food processor for the sake of dishes, opting for the sieve instead. It came out great and really, it's easy enough that you should try it. I'm guessing you have the ingredients on hand right now. And writing about the process is making me want to whip up some more. It's that delicious (and simple!)

This pudding is so good that I feel like calling it pudding isn't enough. It's more than a regular vanilla pudding- it has a surprise chocolate layer, it's silky smooth, and with a few changes, I don't even feel that bad eating it. I replaced the whole milk with 2 percent, used "cashew cream" in the ganache (a mixture of raw cashews and water, blended until it resembles heavy cream), and omitted part of the butter. You won't notice the changes but I think you'll enjoy this delicious and easy dessert- with less guilt. Even so, I did feel a little guilty eating the extra pudding for breakfast. But sometimes you need something quick, you know? And with my little red ramekin was staring at me from the fridge, I went for it.

So this brings me to the giveaway from MyBlogSpark. These Nature Valley Granola Nut Clusters are delicious and come in a flavor everyone will like. My husband loves these and that's a pretty glowing review since he's a serious snacker. This prize includes all the flavors of nut clusters (the roasted peanut is my favorite) and a few other goodies (you can bet my son already grabbed that flashlight and is napping with it as I type this!) If you'd like to try these, you can grab a coupon here.

To enter, leave a comment letting me know what your favorite snack is- be it pudding or something else. I won't judge (and I could use some ideas- my hands are full a lot lately and my tall man's stomach is always rumbling!)

Giveaway will end Sunday night (10/11/09) at midnight, AZ time. I'll randomly choose one winner (US residents only for shipping purposes). Please make sure you're profile is linked to your blog or email or something so I can get a hold of you!

'Lighter' Split Level Pudding
adapted from Baking by Dorie Greenspan

For the chocolate layer:
2 ounces of bitter sweet chocolate, chopped, or chocolate chips
1/3 cup heavy cream (or cashew cream, see below)

Bring the cream to a boil, pour over chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds. Stir gently to blend and divide mixture between the pudding cups. Set aside.

For the vanilla layer:
2 1/4 cups 2% milk
6 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon butter, cut into bits
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

In a glass measuring cup, boil the milk in the microwave. Meanwhile, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks in a medium saucepan. Whisk until combined. After the milk boils, slowly pour a small amount into the saucepan while whisking. Continue whisking and drizzle in the rest of the milk. Once thoroughly combined, place over medium heat and keep whisking until the pudding thickens and starts to bubble (two or three minutes).

Mix in the vanilla and then whisk in the butter. Scrape the pudding into a sieve and push through to catch any lumps, or pulse in the food processor if desired. Divide the pudding over the chocolate filled ramekins, cover with saran wrap, and refrigerate a couple hours (or enjoy warm- that's delicious too!)

Cashew Cream (adapted from Enlightened Cooking)

1/4 cup raw cashews
1/4 cup cold water

Place the nuts and cold water in a blender and blend at high speed for 2 minutes. Stop the blender and scrape down the sides. Blend at least 1-2 minutes longer until the mixture is smooth (mixture will be very thick; add 1-2 additional tablespoons water, if needed, to blend until smooth).

Meanwhile, melt the chocolate in a metal or glass bowl set over saucepan of simmering water until smooth. Remove bowl from heat and cool slightly. Stir in cashew cream until well-blended.

October 1, 2009

Halloween Popcorn Balls

Fall is here. For me, that means it was actually cool enough to take the "kids" (ahem, still weird I have two now) on a walk this morning. It's still supposed to pass 100 for a little while but I'm happy that it's cooling down in the morning and at night. Soon I'll break out my "winter clothes"- jeans and a long sleeve t shirt, maybe even a cardigan- that have been hanging in the desolate outreaches of my closet. So with fall officially here, I thought it would be fun to make popcorn balls. We had some Halloween M&Ms that we had to buy since they were predominately orange- my son's absolute favorite color. We mixed them into a few of the balls and they were cute and festive. If you do that, I'd recommend carefully folding them in after you mix the popcorn and caramel together so they don't start to melt and get crushed. Regardless, it still tasted great. Chocolate chips or other little candies would also be really cute in these. If you could shape the balls while they were still a little warm, you could also roll them in sprinkles for another cute touch.

I got this recipe from a friend in Utah a few years ago. She'd brought these to a party and they flew off the table- seriously. Every time I make these I wonder why I make them so rarely. Then I remember- it's because I don't want to have a heart attack before I hit 30. That said, they are crazy delicious- flavorful, soft and chewy, feature only pantry staples so it's no problem to whip them up, simple enough that my two year old helped out, and (on occasion) totally worth the calories. Go go!

Popcorn Balls

from Kelley Johnson

1/2 cup (1 stick) of butter
2 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup light karo syrup
1 can eagle brand milk (sweetened condensed milk)

Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan and, stirring occasionally, bring to a rolling boil. Boil for 5 1/2 minutes, stirring just about constantly, being careful to scrape the bottom of the pan so it doesn't burn (I like to use a large silicone spatula). Be careful- the caramel is extremely hot! Let cool for one minute then pour over popcorn (see below). Stir to combine and shape into balls once it's cool to the touch.

For the popcorn-
1 cup of popcorn kernels to yield 2 large bowls of popped popcorn (use a popcorn popper or a large stainless steel bowl or wok a la Alton Brown- but don't use buttery, instant popcorn- you want the plain stuff here)

September 28, 2009

Simple Cinnamon Rolls

My Tall Man loves Cinnamon Rolls (well, he loves any white bread and nearly all carbohydrates, but he especially loves Cinnamon Rolls) so I decided to make them for his birthday treat again this year (that was a few weeks ago- before the baby- don't worry, I'm not wrestling with yeast and a newborn yet!).

I've made a few recipes in the past that I felt weren't worth the trouble or the calories. I love Dorie's Pecan Sticky Buns and made those for his birthday last year but since I was nine months pregnant and exceedingly sick of watching the numbers on the scale creep up higher and higher I wanted something lighter. So, I tried Peter Reinhart's version from the Bread Baker's Apprentice after I saw so many delicious posts about it (check out Nancy's here for some good tips). The dough is sweet and flavorful but not heavy and rich like some other versions. It's also not too "bread-y" so this still feels like a special dessert... or delicious breakfast. They also don't bake up with that hard, yucky sugar crust on the bottom of the roll which I've had happen to me a few times (maybe that's because there isn't any butter spread on the rolled out dough?)

View the complete recipe here (page 143). I've posted a quick version for my own records here, since I'll be making these regularly and can never seem to keep track of the paper copies!

NOTE- Do NOT double this recipe in your KitchenAid. The second time I made these I did that and I ended up kneading the dough by hand, worrying I'd nearly killed my beloved Empire Red, and generally just regretting my decision. It only takes a few minutes to whip these up in your mixer so just be patient and do so in two batches- trust me!

Let me know if you've made this recipe before and if you have any recommendations on whole wheat flour, different flavors (I'm trying orange rolls next time), or general tips. I'm far from a bread expert which is why I loved this recipe- he really walks you through it in the book and even with little experience these turn out great.

Cinnamon Rolls

from the Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart

Yields one big baking sheet worth of rolls (about 12-15 depending on how you slice them- I like a little variation so people can choose a big or small roll- use a bench cutter for neat slices or dental floss in a pinch)

6 1/2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon salt
5 1/2 tablespoons shortening or butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, slightly beaten
grated zest of one lemon
3 1/2 cups bread or all purpose flour (I used King Arthur's bread flour)
2 teaspoons instant yeast
1 1/8 to 1 1/4 cups milk, room temperature
1/2 cup cinnamon sugar

Cream together sugar, salt, and shortening on medium high speed in mixer with paddle attachment. Whip in the egg and lemon zest until smooth. Then add the flour, yeast, and milk. Mix on low speed until the dough forms a ball. Switch to the dough hook and mix for about 10 minutes on medium, or until the dough is silky and supple, tacky but not sticky. Add a little flour or water if necessary to attain this texture.

Lightly oil a bowl and transfer the dough into it, cover, and let rise for about 2 hours, or until doubled in size.

Lightly flour or oil a counter and roll the dough into a rectangle about 2/3 inch thick, or 18 by 9 inches wide. Sprinkle the cinnamon sugar over the dough and roll it up into a log, with the seam down. Slice the log, making the pieces about an inch thick. Place on a parchment or silpat lined baking sheet and let rise until nearly doubled (about an hour in my lovely desert home).

Bake at 350 on the middle rack for 20 to 30 minutes, or until gold brown. Remove from oven, let cool, and glaze with powdered sugar icing or cream cheese icing.

Thick and Delicious Cream Cheese Frosting

Note- Since I made these for my Tall Man's birthday, I made a plain powdered sugar icing (as shown in the photo) since he's a crazy person and doesn't really like cream cheese. However, they taste even better with a good cream cheese icing, and since I've never met another person, besides my love, that doesn't like cream cheese icing, this is a sure bet.

1 block Neufchatel (reduced fat) cream cheese, softened
1 stick of butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 bag (1 pound) powdered sugar
Milk, as needed (about 1 tablespoon)

Cream the cream cheese and butter until smooth and well combined. Beat in the vanilla then, with the mixer off, add the powdered sugar. Cover with a clean dish towel and combine on low speed until the sugar is incorporated. Remove towel and increase speed to make a smooth frosting, adding milk until desired consistency is reached.

Spread on slightly cooled cinnamon rolls and enjoy!

September 19, 2009

She's Here!

My sweet baby girl is finally here! She was born on Tuesday and everything went great. She was even two pounds smaller than my little man (who was practically born man-sized) so we are all happy and amazed that the "Dorie diet" worked! I remember reading Jess's post that they thought their new child must be at least half unsalted butter and bittersweet chocolate after all the Dorie treats made and consumed during her pregnancy. I think my little miss is about the same, the other half being Paradise Bakery chocolate chip cookies, watermelon, and caramelized onions (yay for pregnancy cravings! at least I didn't eat those foods all together...)

I have to run and try to sleep while she is sleeping and my husband has my little man, but I felt a little vain just posting a picture and no recipe, so I'm including my favorite caramel wrapped chocolate dipped pretzels. In a last crazy pregnant fit I made these Monday afternoon. They are simple and really visually impressive- not to mention delicious. Please pardon the picture- I took it about 12 hours after I had the baby since I didn't make enough of these "visitor treats" and was worried they were going to be gone before I got a photo at all! We share them with the doctors and nurses and people who came to visit. It was a lot of fun and considering you could make and freeze them in advance, not too much of an endeavor. Unless you're crazy like me and would like to spend your last afternoon before having a baby wrapping caramel and dipping chocolate. :)

A few notes-

I use Peter's Caramel which you can order online. It comes in a 5 pound box and lasts a very long time, staying soft and delicious. It's about $4 or 5 a pound and a little goes a long way. I think the taste and ease of use is worth it, but you could certainly substitute Kraft caramels.

This time I used both white and milk chocolate so people have a choice. The flavor really comes out so I would use Ghiradelli or something else delicious, since you'll really notice it.

For the pink drizzle, I melted white chocolate with a couple of red Wilton candy melts (find those at Michael's or any craft store in the candy making aisle) to attain the pink color. I poured the mixture into a squeeze bottle and stored that in a glass of hot water so it maintained it's temperature while I made all the pretzels.

Kate's Caramel Wrapped Chocolate Dipped Pretzels

1 Bag of Pretzel Rods
1 Pound of Peter's Caramel (or Kraft if you can't find Peter's, but it's worth finding- locally you can get it at Shar's in Gilbert or at ABC Cake Decorating in Phoenix)
2 Cups of Chocolate Chips (or chopped chocolate) plus more for drizzling
2 Tablespoons Crisco (plain shortening, not the evil butter flavored kind, it creeps me out!)
Sprinkles for decorating

Make a double boiler by placing a glass bowl over a saucepan filled with an inch or so of water. Place over medium low heat, watching to make sure the water doesn't touch the glass or condensate into the bowl. Pour in the chocolate, add the Crisco, and stir occasionally until smooth and combined. Reduce heat to low.

Meanwhile, cut the caramel into about one inch cubes. Using your hands, roll each piece into a "snake" like you used to do with play doh. When your caramel is about eight inches long, press the end onto the top of the pretzel and wrap it around the rod, forming a spiral. Leave enough pretzel exposed to dip it later. Set all the wrapped pretzels onto a parchment or Silpat lined cooling rack.

Once the pretzels are all covered, dip into the chocolate, being careful to cover all of the caramel and drip off the excess chocolate. Lay the rod back on the baking sheet and proceed with the rest, working with about 10 at a time. Drizzle with a contrasting color of melted chocolate, if desired, then add sprinkles. Working with a few at a time ensures the chocolate isn't set before you do the decorating. After they are dipped, place the cooling rack in the fridge to set.

When pretzels are set, place in cellophane bags and tie. These keep well for a few days but will last longer than your self control in the freezer.

September 6, 2009

Baby Shower Cupcakes

I've been woefully neglecting my blog and I feel the need to apologize. Along the same lines, I should apologize to my husband whose delicious food consumption mirrors my blogs content most of the time (sans chocolate) and who is probably hungry as I type this. Nonetheless, I think the fact that I have NINE DAYS to go until my baby comes is a decent excuse. So in case you're sick of looking at panzanella, I thought I'd post some baby shower cupcakes. A friend of mine is having twins so I made pink and blue cupcakes per her request. I'm a little squeamish about blue dyed food but they turned out cute (although the gel dye did a little number on the texture, I think other people didn't notice). I frosted them with my big 16 inch bag and enormous bullet tip then topped them with gumballs, dots, neccos, mm's, and any other bright pink and blue candies I could find. They turned out really cute even if some of them were an unnatural color.

Then I had my baby shower the same day so I made a batch for my own, which is dorky and probably almost offended my aunt, but I told her making one more batch when you are already making two is less than half the work, so she might as well save her self the trouble. I hope that flawed math/logic went over well. Either way, I couldn't resist since my mom found cupcake liners that match the quilt she's making the baby (pink polka dot) so we just had to do it.

I'm going to repost my frosting recipe since it's one of the most asked for by my "real life" friends (the rest of you, I've dubbed my "cooking friends", which my husband thinks is silly since we've never met and don't talk on the phone or anything, oh well). And while I'm going to try to feed my husband better this week before it's too late and she's here, I make no guarantees. So, to satisfy my "cooking friends" and "real life friends" who stop by my blog to laugh at the large quantity of desserts I make and the gourmet leftovers my husband enjoys at work (when he isn't getting a ham sandwich every day), I'm going to post this one last guaranteed recipe before the baby is born. And I'm going to tell you her name. I think we've finally decided.

I posted about our Katherine/Kate debate a while ago here and on my personal blog. I got 53 votes and finally tallied them up this morning-
Kate- 24
Katherine- 29

So the results are.... KATE!

While Kate didn't technically win, these two comments echo my sentiments on this subject I've debated with every friend, family member, or perfect stranger sporting a Kate/Katie/Katherine/Kathleen/etc Nametag. And it's funny that it seems so simple that I'd name her Nick if she was actually a he. I guess it's just easier to pick when the choice doesn't matter much!

"I prefer Kate. I know a lot of people are citing versatility as a reason to go with Katherine, but as Kate she can still call herself Kat, Katie, and everything short for Katherine if she chose. Naming her Katherine just in case she wants to go by that as an adult seems like a bad reason when you prefer Kate anyway."

"I love traditional names too and like both Katherine and Kate, but I don't like Kathy as much as Kate. So my vote is if you want her to be called Kate just name her that :) If it is a boy though, I vote for naming him Nicholas and not just Nick."

So there you have it. I'm officially declaring her Kate and will probably refer to her as baby girl from her on out, since I hold onto some false notion of blog privacy and refer to my son as "little man" or "baby boy" like his name is some big secret. I know you're all dying to know, too, since it's about as creative/interesting as Kate, and I love it. I hope she never regrets losing the Katherine option, but I guess I never whined to my mom that my name was just Anne!

Wish me luck with these last nine days as I'm practically counting the hours. And say a prayer that "Kate" is actually a "Kate" and not a "Nick" because I'll be heartbroken if I have to pack up all those beautiful baby girl clothes, blankets, and bows from the baby shower!

Anne's Very Favorite (Cream Cheese) Frosting

1 package of cream cheese, softened (I like to use Neufchatel, less fat and I don't notice much difference)
1/2 cup butter, softened (one stick)
2 Tablespoons milk
2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or the seeds of one vanilla pod, scraped
dash of salt
6 cups of powdered sugar (more or less to achieve desired consistency, this is a baseline)
1 Tablespoon meringue powder

In a mixer with the whisk attachment, combine the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Add in the milk, vanilla, and salt, and blend.

Next, add the powdered sugar and meringue powder, cover the bowl of the mixer with a dish towel, and turn it on low until everything is combined. Then increase the speed for a minute or so until the frosting is light, fluffy, and delicious. The meringue powder will help set the frosting after it dries so it holds its shape.

Add 1 T. finely grated lemon or orange zest and substitute juice for the milk to make a tangy citrus frosting